Skip to main content

Today's Hours: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm

African American Scholar Program

The program provides financial support and community engagement to talented African American students pursuing marine science fields of study related to the work of the Aquarium.

A black mask-wearing student with glasses gazes upward in the Aquarium

Andrew Reitsma / Aquarium of the Pacific

Applications now Closed

The program supports exceptional African American students pursuing fields of study related to the aquarium. Through the award and engagement experience, the Aquarium hopes to lower barriers by providing both financial support for academic endeavors, and community support through networking opportunities. This program seeks to provide continued involvement in fields related to the Aquarium for deserving African American students to bring diverse minds to solving the issues facing our planet and its inhabitants.

“The Aquarium of the Pacific is committed to creating pathways for African American students to pursue careers in our field, and it has been very gratifying for us to collaborate with the scholars from this program as they engage in the Aquarium’s work. This has included developing new initiatives and serving as a platform for the scholars to connect with other scientists and the next generation of students,” said Anthony Brown, member of the selection committee.

Since 2021, the Aquarium has named 21 recipients of this scholarship. They have participate in various Aquarium programs, including writing for the member magazine, serving as judges in our high school film festival, creating films for our early childhood education partners, and serving as “Ask a Scientist” at Aquarium events and through social media. The scholars also attend in a fall symposium to strengthen their connection to the Aquarium and to each other. Symposium activities usually include opportunities to meet with Aquarium staff members, hear from a panel of STEM professionals, and connect with high school students from the Long Beach Unified School District.

This program is possible thanks to funding from individuals and corporate supporters. Major program supporters for 2022 include The Ahmanson Foundation, Lori Prince and Robert Hum, Poms & Associates, Kathie Eckert and Schulzman-Neri Foundation.

The public is also invited to support the Aquarium’s African American Scholar program. For the third year in a row, an anonymous donor has pledged matching gift of $10,000 to encourage others to support this program. To make a donation, visit the African American Scholar Fund.

Program requirements and eligibility:

Applicant must register an account via the application portal and submit the required materials prior to the deadline.

Submit an Application

Required Materials

  1. Proof of application, acceptance, or enrollment in an accredited university, community college, or trade school with a field of study related to the aquarium including ocean education, public communication, animal science, water quality, and conservation.
    • For graduating high school seniors, proof of acceptance or enrollment is required before initial fund disbursement.
  2. Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  3. Two letters of recommendation.
  4. Completed Aquarium photo release and W9 forms.
  5. African American Scholar Essay - 500-750 words

Application Timeline

9/9/22 Applications Open
11/25/22 Deadline for Application Submission
12/26/22 Committee Completes Application Review
1/2/23 Zoom Interview with finalists begin
1/20/23 2023 Scholars notified    
2/25/23 Public announcement of 2023 scholars at the African American Festival

Application Information

  • The scholarship is available to California residents of any age with African American heritage with proof of acceptance or enrollment in an accredited university, community college, or trade school with a field of study in aquarium related fields.
  • Aquarium of the Pacific paid employees, Board members, and their immediate families are not eligible. Volunteers and their immediate families are eligible to apply.
  • Award recipients will be selected in part by a committee of Aquarium staff members and partners in the community. The selection committee will determine the number of recipients each year.
  • Awards of $10,000 will be paid out in two incremental installments. Additional details will be communicated during the time of award notification.
  • Recipients will be asked to provide a headshot and a short video for Aquarium announcement materials. Additional details will be communicated during the time of award notification.
  • Recipients and their families will be invited to the public announcement event at Aquarium’s 21st annual African American Festival on February 25, 2023.
  • Recipients are asked to be available on November 18, 2023, for the African American Scholar Symposium at the Aquarium. The in-person event is an opportunity to network and connect as a community.
  • If you have questions regarding the application or eligibility requirements, please email AfricanAmericanScholar@LBAOP.ORG.

Committee Members

Ryan Ashton
Vice President of Development, Aquarium of the Pacific
Anthony Brown
COO/CFO, Wildwood School
Sean Devereaux
Executive Director, Leadership Long Beach
Keasha Dumas Heath
Executive Director, The Museum of African American Art
Krista Kamer
Director, California State University Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST)
Alie LeBeau
Director STEM Pathway Initiatives, Aquarium of the Pacific
Alyssa Pacaut
Director of Membership, Aquarium of the Pacific
Steve Young
Principal, Keesal,Young, and Logan and Aquarium Board director

Committee Advisor

Naomi Rainey
President, Long Beach NAACP