We are not born stewards of the Great Lakes, we are taught to appreciate, love, and protect them. Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA) uses hands-on shipboard and onshore educational programs to bring youth and adults one step closer to stewardship of these great lakes. Every donation to ISEA is used to impact an increasing number of individuals with our mission of inspiring Great Lakes curiosity, stewardship, and passion. Your support helps ISEA to provide more educational opportunities for these individuals through school scholarships, new programming, and maintenance of the Inland Seas schooner and Education Center. By donating to Inland Seas through membership, sponsorship, boat donations, or legacy gifts, you are protecting the Great Lakes through education.

To make a recurring donation, click here.

Donations can also be made by phone (231) 271-3077 or through the mail at:

Inland Seas Education Association
P. O. Box 218
Suttons Bay, Michigan 49682


Make a donation to Inland Seas by becoming a member. Your membership helps us accomplish our passion of protecting the Great Lakes by educating youth and adults, and by providing updated, ongoing research and programming opportunities. By helping us keep our costs down, we can deliver affordable programs to the communities we serve.

Your support helps ISEA to:

  • Provide more educational opportunities for school children
  • Develop new programming
  • Continue to maintain the Inland Seas schooner

All membership levels receive the monthly e-newsletter, 10% discount on Ship Store merchandise, invitation to member sails and events, access to ISEA watercraft, and acknowledgement in the annual report. Memberships are non-voting. See membership levels for additional benefits. 2016-17 memberships expire 4/30/17.

Crew Level ($100-$499)

As a Crew Level member, your donation will:

  • sponsor one student for a half-day Schoolship experience
  • allow you to purchase two public sail tickets for 50% off
  • allow you to participate in transit sails (when ISEA sails from one port to another) for free

First Mate Level ($500-$999)

As a First Mate Level member, your donation will:

  • sponsor one student to participate in a YPIS 3-day, 2-night program
  • provide you with two complementary tickets for a public sail
  • allow you to participate in transit sails (when ISEA sails from one port to another) for free

Captain's Circle Level ($1,000+)

As a Captain’s Circle Level member, your donation will:

  • sponsor a class (up to 35 students, teachers, and chaperones) for a half-day Schoolship experience
  • allow you to participate in transit sails (when ISEA sails from one port to another) for free
  • provide you the opportunity to have one private tour of Inland Seas for up to 10 people (reservations required)
  • allow you one free use of the Education Center for a private event
  • give you access to the ISEA Conference Room in the Education Center (reservations required)
  • receive invitations to special Captain’s Circle events

Schooner Society

greatlakeseducation5Donors who have a lifetime of giving of $25,000 or more, belong to the Schooner Society, receive a half-model of the Schooner Inland Seas, and have their name displayed in the Education Center on the lifetime giving wall.

Schooner Society Members (as of August 2016)

Individuals and Families


Lois Bahle and Larry Mawby

The Beers Family

Gordon and Susan Brown

Lawrence and Susan Burks Family

Charles and Susan Cady

Edward and Barbara Collins

Michael and Barbara Dennos

Michael and Rhea Dow

Gary and Sandy Drew

Darcy Dye

Timothy Feist

Mason and Mary Kaye Ferry

Larry and Martha Garber

Jack and Bessie Hamm

Brian and Jennifer Jaffe

Marty and Olivia Lagina

Leslie Lee

Jim and Gwen Rich

Richard and Norma Sarns

David and Carole Shelby

Robert Soltow

Sally Somsel

Corporations and Foundations


American Steamship Company

The Edmund F and Virginia B Ball Foundation

The Les and Anne Biederman Foundation

Charlevoix County Community Foundation

The Alden and Vada Dow Family Foundation

The Dow Chemical Company, MI Division

The Dow Chemical Company Foundation

The Herbert H and Grace A Dow Foundation

DTE Energy Foundation

Earl-Beth Foundation

Ford Motor Company Fund

Rollin M Gerstacker Foundation

Global Marine Insurance

Harleysville Lake States Company

Herman Miller Cares

Herrington-Fitch Family Foundation

W K Kellogg Foundation

Mariel Foundation

National City Bank

NewPage – Escanaba Operations

Northwestern Bank

Oleson Foundation

Paine Family Foundation

The Herbert and Elsa Ponting Foundation

Rotary Charities of Traverse City

The Seabury Foundation

Seeco Contracting Corporation

Suttons Bay Leelanau Rotary Club



We welcome any amount to fund programs such as the Schoolship, boat building, Education Center, interns, new technology for teaching, etc. Just tell us the amount of your support and the program that is of importance to you. Here are some examples of ways you can support programming.

Schoolship – Support a school to participate in a half-day of education on Inland Seas
Full sponsorship: $2,475
School sponsorship: $825 (pay for school portion)
One student: $25

Young People in Science – Help inspire high school students to be Great Lakes scientists in this two-day program
Full sponsorship (10 students): $3,600
One student: $360

Abenaki Canoe – Costs associated with purchasing supplies and materials for building one canoe
Materials for one canoe: $1,500

Opti Pram – Costs associated with purchasing supplies and materials for building one sailing Opti Pram sailboat
Materials for one Opti Pram: $2,400



Usually in the form of a check or credit card, a cash gift is the most common form for charitable gifts. Tax benefits are available for gifts of cash when you itemize your deductions.

Memorial and Tribute Gifts

Honor and remember the special people in your life on a birthday, anniversary, for a special occasion or achievement, or during a time of loss with a tribute or memorial gift to Inland Seas Education Association. These gifts allow you to thoughtfully remember family members and friends who have been a vital part of your life while continuing to keep the Great Lakes preserved for the next generations.

Property other than Cash

What if the amount you wish to give exceeds the amount you feel you can give from your cash resources? Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, boats, and other resources can make excellent gifts to ISEA. A gift of such an asset may allow you to give with little or no effect on your current spendable income, and you can enjoy various tax incentives. Please contact us at (231) 271-3077 or, if you would like to donate to ISEA through one of the following methods.

Savings Bonds: Turn your savings bonds into a generous ISEA gift while reducing the tax liability generated by these investments.

Real Estate: Inland Seas Education Association may accept gifts of real estate, including homes, condominiums, commercial properties, farmland, rental properties, and undeveloped land after a thorough review of several factors, including an environmental assessment.

Closely Held Stock: Publicly traded securities, shares of stock in closely held companies, bonds, and government issues may be given to Inland Seas Education Association. Call the office for stock transfer and delivery directions.

Gifts of Life Insurance: When you own a life insurance policy with accumulated cash value, you’re essentially sitting on a pile of money. When the original purpose for the protection no longer applies—such as to educate children now grown or to provide financial security for a spouse now deceased—your life insurance can be redirected to help support Inland Seas Education Association. You can name ISEA as the beneficiary and also assign us ownership of the policy as a current charitable gift. Another option is to name ISEA as the primary beneficiary, making this a legacy gift (naming ISEA as beneficiary while you retain ownership of the policy does not qualify you for an income tax deduction).

You can support Inland Seas by donating boats and nautical gear. If you have a boat, a trailer, and/or nautical gear and could use an income tax deduction, consider donating them to ISEA.

ISEA will clean up and facilitate minor repairs of donated boats to maximize the sale dollar value for your donation. All monies raised will be used to support the operation of ISEA. Donated gear will be used to fit out donated boats or offered for sale at the ISEA Flea Market which is held at the Great Lakes Celebration each year.

You can claim the sale price of your boat donation as a tax-deductible contribution. Contact us at (231) 271-3077 for more information.

Legacy gifts name Inland Seas Education Association as the beneficiary of any type of planned or deferred gift. The act of caring for generations to come and providing for the future of others is not only admirable, it is purposeful and significant. When you designate a gift in your will or estate plan to ISEA, you are leaving a legacy of protecting the Great Lakes by developing stewards in future generations. Please let us know, (231) 271-3077, if you have already included Inland Seas Education Association in your estate plan or are considering doing so.

Tom Kelly’s family established two legacy funds with ISEA. Donations may be made to the Tom Kelly Scholarship Fund to to ensure that students who otherwise could not afford the schoolship experience are able to do so and to ensure scholarships are available for college interns, or to the Tom Kelly Schoolship Upkeep Fund to ensure that the organization is able to attend to any vessel maintenance and repair needs that arise as the vessel continues to age.


Assist ISEA by using one of the most popular and simplest ways to make a gift. After providing for your loved ones, you may decide to give a specific amount, a percentage of your estate, or all or a portion of what remains after others have been remembered. Often a gift by will can be arranged simply with the addition of a codicil (amendment) to your existing will.

Bequest Language
“I give _______ (percentage, or specific amount, or residue) to Inland Seas Education Association, a Michigan non-profit corporation of 100 Dame Street, Suttons Bay, Michigan, for use for any purpose or purposes without restriction.”

Beneficiary Designations

Continue supporting ISEA even after your lifetime by naming ISEA as a beneficiary of your retirement plan, life insurance, or insurance annuity assets.

Employee retirement plans, IRAs and tax-sheltered annuities contain income that has not been taxed. Your beneficiaries will owe income tax at your death, totaling up to 35%, which is a reason to leave your loved ones less heavily taxed assets and leaving your retirement plans to ISEA.

Your need for life insurance changes as time passes, making way for a new opportunity for its use. If you no longer need the coverage to protect your loved ones, consider changing your policy’s beneficiary to support the work of ISEA.

Charitable Gift Annuities

Contribute to ISEA and receive a fixed annuity payment each year for your life. 

Charitable Remainder Trusts

This plan can increase your income, reduce your taxes, and rid you of investment worries at the same time you provide much needed support to ISEA. 

Endowed Gifts

An endowed gift is a powerful way to make a gift to Inland Seas Education Association in your name or the name of a loved one while realizing tax benefits. When you endow your gift, you create a permanent legacy. You create a statement about your values and the causes that you feel passionate about. Through your endowment, generations will remember you, what you cared about, and what you stood for. 

By investing in the Inland Seas Education Association business sponsorship program, you are investing in the future of our Great Lakes. Through your partnership, Great Lakes stewards are developed and future Great Lakes scientists are taught. Your support helps us accomplish our passion and mission of protecting the Great Lakes through education to both youth and adults by providing updated, ongoing research and programming opportunities. By helping us keep our costs down, we can deliver affordable programs to the communities we serve.

There are three ways you can become an ISEA business sponsor:

  • Become a member
  • Become a partner
  • Adopt-a-Class

For more information on business sponsorship, please call the office at 231.271.3077.

Business Memberships 



Schmuckal Oil Company

Chemical Bank – Suttons Bay Branch



All business membership levels are announced on social media at membership inception, acknowledged in the annual report, and are recognized in a yearly press release of business sponsors. 2016-17 memberships expire 9/30/17.

$500 Suttons Bay Level

  • Name on web site

$1,000 Grand Traverse Bay Level

  • Logo on web site
  • 2 complementary tickets for a public sail

$2,500 Lake Huron Level

  • Logo and link on web site
  • Sponsorship of one half-day Schoolship experience (Charter for a Purpose)
  • 5 complementary tickets for a public sail
  • Recognition in Executive Director’s monthly newsletter

$5,000 Lake Michigan Level

  • Logo and link on web site
  • Logo on banner at dock for the season
  • Sponsorship of two half-day Schoolship experiences (Charter for a Purpose)
  • Customized 2-hour sail for up to 35 people that meets needs of company such as team building, education, staff recognition/reward, etc.
  • Recognition in Executive Director’s monthly newsletter

$10,000 Lake Superior Level

  • Logo and link on web site
  • Logo on banner at dock for the season
  • Logo on banner to be displayed at all ports of call
  • Sponsorship of four half-day Schoolship experiences (Charter for a Purpose)
  • Customized 2-hour sail for up to 35 people that meets needs of company such as team building, education, staff recognition/reward, etc.
  • Recognition in Executive Director’s monthly newsletter

If you are interested in becoming a business member, please call the office at 231.271.3077 or donate below.

Partnership Opportunities

ISEA is looking to partner with businesses for specific campaigns. Campaigns can be ISEA developed or unique to the partnership. Time and financial contributions vary with each opportunity. Contact the ISEA office, 231.271.3077, for more information.

Current campaigns

Microplastics: Join ISEA in reducing the amount of microplastics in the Great Lakes. These small particles of plastic end up in our water through wastewater, runoff, and litter, endangering our food web. ISEA collects microplastic samples throughout the summer. Become a partner to help get the word out and minimize microplastics in our Great Lakes.


Through Inland Seas’ Adopt-a-Class program, a business funds the portion of a sail that a classroom would normally pay to participate. Your scholarship of $825 would allow up to 35 students, teachers, and chaperones to participate in a half-day Schoolship experience. During this sail, students will become real scientists when they collect and examine samples of bottom organisms, use a micro-view system to observe plankton, test water clarity, mix chemicals, and learn navigation while steering the ship. Cost to sponsor: $825 per class


If you would like to adopt a class, please call the ISEA office at 231.271.3077.


* Inland Seas Education Association does not provide legal or tax advisory services. Please contact an attorney or financial advisor before making charitable gifts regarding wills, trusts, and bequests.

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