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In this edition of our Foundation Friday series, we’re leaving land to journey along with Rob Lee, president of the Lee Oceans Foundation, as he shares his passion to preserve the world’s underwater natural resources for future generations. We’re proud to support the Lee Oceans Foundation and invite you to watch this inspiring video to learn more about the action steps they’re taking.

About Your Philanthropy

What inspired you to start your foundation?
A lifetime on and near the ocean, and almost 20 years actively diving and exploring the ocean and underwater caves, has taken us to places and allowed us to see, experience, and be amazed by some of the world’s underwater resources. We created Lee Oceans Foundation to help translate our passion for documenting, sharing and conserving these natural resources for future generations into action—by conducting and supporting direct project work to support these efforts.

What causes are you most passionate about?
Marine and ocean advocacy and conservation.

What projects/initiatives are you excited about currently?
We have several projects currently focused on the ocean areas off of the coast of California. One project, conducted in partnership with NOAA’s Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, is focused on exploration and gathering research and photo/video documentation data used for education and outreach. In other projects, we have partnered with state and federal agencies to recover discarded marine waste.

What is one of your private foundation’s achievements that you are proud of and why?
We have conducted several cleanup projects recovering discarded car tires and derelict fishing gear from deep waters of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Can you tell me about a time when you were able to see the impact of your giving?
We have mostly focused on direct charitable activities to date but anticipate supporting organizations conducting similar impactful activities.

How do you stay connected with other philanthropists?
We are a relatively newer foundation and are just beginning our journey. That said, we work closely and collaborate with a number of other marine-focused non-profit organizations around our projects.

What would you want other philanthropists to know about your work?
We hope that through our work, we are able to raise awareness and support for our ocean resources with the public. And hopefully, through these efforts, other philanthropists are also moved to provide support for our oceans as well.

About Your Foundation

How do you engage your family in your foundation?
The passion for supporting our ocean resources is a shared one within our family, so we are both very active in our direct project and outreach efforts.

What is one long-term goal for your foundation?
One long-term goal for our foundation is to better connect motivated and highly trained ocean-going volunteers (as we have) with research, government, and resource protection agencies to better document, explore and research other precious natural resources. We believe these types of partnerships can be highly productive, and we hope to set an example through our work.

Do you have any advice for people looking to start or grow their own private foundation?
We are early in our journey, but it is clear that passion is a key ingredient. Our shared love for the ocean and desire to protect these resources is what drives our energy in running the foundation and its project activities.

Is there a unique foundation feature that has helped you pursue your mission?
The foundation structure which allows us to combine grant-giving with direct charitable activities has been crucial in allowing us the most flexibility in finding the most effective way to pursue our mission.

Working with Foundation Source

How does Foundation Source help you achieve your goals?
In addition to providing all of our administrative support, Foundation Source have been a vital partner in helping us craft and structure our activities to best pursue our mission.

Can you tell us a little about your experience working with the Foundation Source team?
Our experience working with Foundation Source and our private client advisor has been great. We are a bit unique compared to many private foundations with a heavy emphasis and focus on direct charitable activities conducted by our volunteers. Foundation Source have been a great partner in helping us navigate the various processes and planning steps required to run our somewhat unique set of activities.

How was the process of getting your private foundation set up or transitioned to Foundation Source?
The process of setting up our private foundation with Foundation Source was easy and seamless. Each step of the way, our private client advisor was there to advise what decisions needed to be undertaken, what considerations should be taken into account, and what decisions could be deferred or changed at a later point. Coming into this process with no previous exposure or knowledge of private foundations, Foundation Source made the entire process painless and approachable.

Want to learn more about the ways we support private foundations?
Whether you are looking for support for your existing foundation or want to create a private foundation, our philanthropic specialists are here to help. To learn more, schedule a call with us or reach us at 800-839-0054. Together, let’s #begiving.

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