Marine research funding organization uses FileMaker Pro to organize data in support of project proposals

California Sea Grant

California Sea Grant College Program funds vital marine science research at academic institutions throughout California. Based at the University of California, San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, California Sea Grant is the largest of 30 programs in the United States and Puerto Rico. And essential to organizing the data which accumulates as part of the grant process is FileMaker Pro, the award–winning database software application from FileMaker Inc.


  • A non–profit agency overseeing grants for oceanographic research for the state of California.
  • About 15 employees


  • Non–Profit


  • Organization of data for grant proposal management
  • Online research databases (Currently being upgraded)


  • Grant proposal information is immediately accessible whenever and wherever needed.
  • Users are able to customize layouts to suit their own reporting needs.

Business Challenge

Before any marine research project can begin, the first diver gets wet, or the first sample collected — it comes down to paperwork. And there's lots of it. As Sea Grant programmer/analyst Georgia Ratcliffe states, "We process research grant proposals from the preliminary stage through formal proposal submission, merit reviews, budgeting, fund allocation, historical tracking, and post–award reporting."

Every stage of that process is subject to close examination by advisors and external peers, and every bit of that information needs to be accessible. For years that was a problem. "We had huge amounts of information stored in dusty notebooks," Georgia recalls. "It was hard to access, and not available to multiple users, and made our proposal process that much longer and more complicated. We needed a database to make that information available to more people, and to allow us to present that information in many ways and easily generate necessary reports."

Successful Solution

"We began with FileMaker Pro in 1992," Georgia continues, "and when FileMaker Pro Server became available we began using that as well. It's made our operations much smoother. I created a 'Main Menu' interface for users, which made it easier for them to locate and use the data they needed, and to open multiple data windows at the same time. Now we have a total of 48 databases running on the server, each containing anywhere from 200 to 5000 records."

FileMaker Pro allows our users to learn how to make their own layouts to retrieve data needed for reports. It's easy to teach users the basics, and this lets them get up and running faster.

— Georgia Ratcliffe, Programmer/Analyst, California Sea Grant

Customer Benefits

FileMaker Pro takes the vital information on pending proposals out of dusty notebooks and off shelves and puts it into the hands ot people who need it. And it makes it much easier for those Sea Grant staffers who need to learn to organize the data in new ways without using expensive consultants. "FileMaker Pro allows our users to learn how to make their own layouts to retrieve data needed for reports," says Georgia. "It's easy to teach them the basics, and this lets them get up and running faster." And at the same time, FileMaker Pro Server allows Georgia to control the integrity of the data and its accessibility — centrally. "It keeps the structure more orderly," she declares.

Users outside California Sea Grant also benefit as the organization has used FileMaker Pro to create searchable online databases containing current research and publication information. Through these easy–to–use interfaces, interested members of the public have a chance to see what's happening in the world of oceanography — and researchers are able to keep up to speed with the latest studies in their disciplines. While these databases are currently being upgraded, FileMaker Pro is always ready to power them whenever there's new information to share.

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.

For California Sea Grant:

Marsha Gear
APR Communications Director
California Sea Grant