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By Susannah Black
January 29, 2016

We are honored to be one of Clinton Global Initiative’s featured Commitments to Action at CGI’s 2016 Winter Meeting.  Some more information about the nuts and bolts of our Commitment:

The Billion Oyster Project (BOP) seeks to meaningfully engage the region’s students, schools, restaurants, corporations and entire communities in their local ecosystem by sharing the work of planting one billion live oysters in New York Harbor together.


Oyster Production – At the Harbor School Oyster Hatchery, and at various BOP reefs and nurseries, BOP will produce and restore 15 million oysters by making technical upgrades to hatchery systems and constructing two additional nurseries.

Reef Construction and Monitoring – At various sites throughout the city, BOP will build and monitor 2 acres of oyster reef, planning to put one reef in each borough. BOP will also help build the institutional capacity at the Harbor School to grow and restore oysters. This work is through extensive partnerships on mitigation and resiliency projects with for profit, government and non-profit partners.

Shell Collection – BOP will increase oyster shell collection program to 75 restaurants and annual capacity to 1000 cubic yards of shell. The restaurant relations team has developed a toolkit for restaurants that facilitates communicating the program to diners. This creates an incentive for restaurants above and beyond saving them money on carting costs.

Public Engagement – Engage the general public through hands-on science, volunteer days, and public programs on Governors Island and at community reef sites around the city. The centerpiece for this will be a public exhibit about oysters and Harbor ecology on Governors Island.

BOP Schools – Create a teacher training program and Billion Oyster Project/Harbor literacy curriculum for middle school teachers in engaged schools and partner with 75 schools. Schools will be recruited, supported and teachers trained through the work of the BOP CCEERS partnership through which curricula, field science protocols and online tools are being developed. BOP has also partnered with the Mayor’s Office to coordinate collaboration with city agencies.

What’s Changed for BOP? In other words, how does this Commitment express our growth? At its founding, Billion Oyster Project was a project of the New York Harbor School, a small public high school. This limited its reach and scope. Now we have created a separate non-profit, the New York Harbor Foundation, to support the project and allow us to coordinate a region-wide effort and manage contracts necessary to implement the project at the scale and geography proposed. We have nearly two years of experience where we have gained substantial experience in the following: 1) How to manage and successfully implement large-scale government contracts; 2) Which oyster reef restoration techniques work best; 3) How to build a manage a large and diverse coalition; 4) How to coordinate a project with multiple city agencies and constituents.