The board of the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation in Sarasota, Florida, has announced grants totaling more than $2.1 million, including $1 million to the Chicago Zoological Society in support of a five-year study of dolphins in Sarasota Bay.
Through its most recent funding cycle, the foundation awarded grants in support of environmental research, education technology, and youth-related causes. The largest will fund key components of the longest-running study of a wild dolphin population. Ongoing since 1970 and led by Dr. Randall Wells, a Sarasota-based scientist, the research is creating a long-term dataset that will aid in the detection and monitoring of threats to ecosystem health as well as provide benchmarks for at-risk dolphin populations elsewhere.
"Bottlenose dolphins are sentinels of the health of our ecosystem in Sarasota," said Wells, who is director of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program at Mote Marine Laboratory (MML). "They breathe the same air, swim in the same waters, and eat the same fish we do. Because of this continuous research, our local bottlenose dolphins also serve as a reference population for NOAA and other research partners worldwide."
In addition, the foundation awarded a separate grant of $300,000 to MML in support of an innovative coral reef research and restoration project. In of the area of education, the foundation awarded $525,000 for the final phase of an initiative with the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Sarasota County Schools that has enabled the district to retrofit twenty-one middle-school language arts and social studies classes with high-tech collaborative tools and train classroom teachers how to use them.
"The Barancik Foundation believes in the power of philanthropy to shape our world and enrich the lives of all people," said Teri A. Hansen, president and CEO of the foundation. "The grants approved by our board last month will support diverse and innovative nonprofit work that does just that, in Sarasota and beyond."