Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times

The Ocean Institute in Dana Point was awarded a $10,000 donation to provide severely underserved students in Orange County with first-time, powerful ocean education that broadens their horizons.

The funding comes from the Robert E. Harris Insurance Agency through Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance Make More Happen Awards.

According to a press release, the $10,000 Make More Happen Award will be used to benefit the most severely underserved students in Orange County, with funds covering the program fees and transportation costs for 10 classes.

The Ocean Institute educates 100,000 children, teachers, parents, and visitors annually through more than 60 marine science and maritime history programs. More than 10,000 of those are from underserved communities, with the Ocean Institute providing K-12 students with access to the ocean who may not have it otherwise due to financial hurdles and logistic constraints.

Steve Harris, an agent at Robert E. Harris Insurance Agency, says he became involved with Ocean Institute because of its impact to empower these students to learn and lead, both about the ocean and in life.

“Thanks to the Ocean Institute, we see students take a real interest in the sciences and come back to the Ocean Institute seeking more education and experience,” said Harris. “Because we feel so personally committed to the Ocean Institute, we are truly grateful to Liberty Mutual and Safeco for the Make More Happen Award for the incredible opportunity to bring awareness to the Ocean Institute and to provide them with the much-needed funds to support their important work.”

Throughout 2020, Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance will select a total of 34 independent agents nationwide for a Make More Happen Award, donating up to $340,000 to the nonprofits they support. Agencies became eligible for the award by submitting an application demonstrating their commitment to a specific nonprofit, along with photos of a project they had worked on.

Ocean Institute’s tall ship the Pilgrim was once used as a classroom field trip destination for decades before she sank in her slip late last month. She was estimated to be worth about $6 million, and questions have arisen as to how the Ocean Institute will proceed in continuing to offer a replication of the Pilgrim’s experience for students.

According to Wendy Marshall, the Ocean Institute’s president of education and operations, a task force will determine how the institute will move forward. For those wanting to make a donation to Ocean Institute to help overcome costs associated with the Pilgrim’s demise, as well as income shortage from canceled fundraisers and events, patrons can do so directly at ocean-institute.org.

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