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Give to Support Harbor Restoration & Education

By Susannah Black
November 14, 2016





Dear Harbor friends,

On the last Tuesday in October, I stood on the Brooklyn shoreline at Bush Terminal Park. Manhattan was in the distance. All around me in the water, Harbor School Scientific Divers were surveying a new BOP Community Reef and the bottom of the park’s two inlets.

I was overjoyed as I listened to the splashing of the fins as they dove, the technical conversations between the buddy pairs, and especially the laughter. Here, a diverse group of public high school students were receiving professional training in underwater scientific research, were responsible for each other’s safety  – and they were having fun.

As they were finishing up, I recognized one of the students, Mahambe (Mo) Toure, and asked him about the dive. He was ecstatic. He had seen a huge eel pass by right underneath him. I joined in his excitement at having been that close to a wild animal, underwater in New York City.  It was experiences like that which caused me to fall in love with the natural world as a child.


Mo (right) geared up and preparing to enter the Harbor

Mo’s experiences and those of his classmates that day were made possible because of you, our generous donors. You helped us renovate the Marine Affairs, Science and Technology (MAST) Center, with its Scientific Diving classroom and dive locker, Aquaculture lab, Marine Systems Technology workshop, and Vessel Operations classroom and training center. You helped us build the Ecodock where our oysters were grown and from which our boat was launched. You helped us design and build the landing craft that transported us to the other side of the Harbor in fifteen minutes. You even helped us secure everything from air compressors to wetsuits, which have allowed teachers at a public school to teach and train young scientific divers.

Your long-term, loyal and generous support has helped us build a successful ecosystem restoration and education program that has now secured the support of some the biggest government agencies in the country.

We are working with the New York State Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery to incorporate oysters as natural infrastructure into shoreline protection measures around the city.

We are building five oyster reefs with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to improve water quality and provide habitat in Jamaica Bay.

The National Science Foundation is supporting our development of a Harbor science and restoration curriculum for NYC public schools.

And the New York City Department of Education has agreed to build two new feeder Harbor middle schools, and is considering expanding Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, our flagship high school, on Governors Island.

All of this has fueled a period of extraordinary growth for the Harbor School and the Billion Oyster Project, while providing an unprecedented opportunity to scale up our work. But for this to happen, New York Harbor Foundation needs to grow too. Your contribution to our annual appeal provides the funding that we need now more than ever to build the capacity to support and grow our programs.

Mo Toure commutes over an hour from the Bronx to Governors Island every day to pursue his Harbor education. His 475 Harbor School classmates and the 5,000 students at our BOP Schools all participate in some version of a Harbor education. But there are 1.1 million public schools students in New York City who are surrounded by but disconnected from the Harbor and from the City’s 600 miles of waterfront. This Harbor is not only the City’s greatest natural resource, but it’s also an unparalleled classroom, laboratory and playground, with the ability to engage students in a profound and unique way. You have stood with us in the development of the Harbor School and the Billion Oyster Project, now stand with us again with a gift today to help us build the curriculum, the schools, the partnerships and the oyster reefs that will help make this transformative Harbor education accessible to more young people.


Thank you,

Murray Fisher
Executive Director, New York Harbor Foundation
Co-founder, The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School
Co-founder, Billion Oyster Project


Neighborhood kids from Sunset Spark, a local community organization, examine a mud crab at Bush Terminal Park