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Grants to USA, Canada, and International Professionals for Exploratory and Broad-Interest Projects


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USA: AlabamaAlaskaArizonaArkansasCaliforniaColoradoConnecticutDelawareFloridaGeorgiaHawaiiIdahoIllinoisIndianaIowaKansasKentuckyLouisianaMaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMississippiMissouriMontanaNebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNew JerseyNew MexicoNew York CityNew YorkNorth CarolinaNorth DakotaOhioOklahomaOregonPennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaTennesseeTexasUtahVermontVirginiaWashington, DCWashingtonWest VirginiaWisconsinWyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)Guam (USA)Puerto Rico (USA)Virgin Islands (USA)Northern Mariana Islands (USA)

USA Compact Free Associations: The Federated States of Micronesia (USA)  Marshall Islands (USA)  Republic of Palau (USA)

Canada: AlbertaBritish ColumbiaManitobaNew BrunswickNewfoundland and LabradorNorthwest TerritoriesNova ScotiaNunavutOntarioPrince Edward IslandQuebecSaskatchewanYukon

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International country outside of the USA, Israel and Canada.

Standard Grant

National Geographic Society

Agency: Foundation

GrantWatch ID #158257

Grant Description

Grants of up to $50,000 to USA, Canada, and International experienced professionals for exploratory, and broad-interest projects in the fields of conservation, research, storytelling, education, and technology. Support is available for projects that are innovative, bold, and transformative.

National Geographic welcomes applications from around the world, and specifically encourages applicants from outside the United States to apply. Applicants planning to work outside of their home country should include at least one local collaborator on their team. The Committee will not usually consider applications that support strictly laboratory or collections work. Grants are awarded on the basis of merit and exist independent of the Society's other divisions.

Project Focus Definitions:


Conservation grants support projects that aim to achieve quantifiable outcomes as a result of scientifically informed actions. There must be a demonstrated need and urgency for conservation, as well as a clear method to evaluate the success or failure of the project.

Applications for Biological or Environmental Sustainability:
Applicants must propose projects that result in or inform tangible solutions that contribute to the conservation of natural resources. Examples of such projects include determining the status of endangered species or ecosystems; developing conservation action plans; implementing innovative solutions to conservation issues; using new technologies to investigate or mitigate threats; or engaging local communities in education or other activities that will improve or increase community-driven conservation efforts. Conservation grants are awarded based on conservation urgency and priority; potential impact; qualifications of the applicant and his or her team to complete their objectives; and a proven record of measurable success in previous efforts . National Geographic Society encourages applications focused on neglected and endangered or critically endangered biodiversity.

Example disciplines: conservation science including biology, ecology, wildlife conservation, and social sciences

Example outputs: species action plan or protected area designations, management plan, policy paper for decision makers, training or education programs, monitoring and evaluation report of ongoing conservation efforts

Applicants for Cultural Sustainability:

Applicants must propose projects that result in or inform tangible solutions that contribute to the long-term survival of cultural resources. Examples of such projects include determining the status of endangered languages or cultures; working in close collaboration with communities to facilitate cultural sustainability and design revitalization action plans; implementing innovative solutions to preserve archaeological sites or landscapes; using new technologies to document or mitigate threats to sites or communities; or engaging local communities in education, storytelling, or other activities that will foster community support for cultural survival. Conservation grants for cultural sustainability are awarded based on demonstrated urgency and priority; potential impact; intellectual rigor; qualifications of the applicant and his or her team to complete their objectives; and a proven record of measurable success in previous efforts .

Example disciplines: public anthropology, community archaeology, indigenous archaeology, cultural heritage studies, biocultural conservation, cultural geography, indigenous or traditional knowledge studies, linguistics

Example outputs: protected status for communities, management plan for mitigating threats, policy paper for decision makers, training or education programs, monitoring and evaluation report of ongoing conservation efforts, cultural revitalization activities, historical or ethnographic maps


Education grants help learners move from curiosity about and understanding of the world to taking action on issues. Grant-funded projects aim to teach people about the world and how it works, empowering them to make it a better place. Projects may introduce innovative instructional strategies for students of any age and in any location. Other projects may take proven ideas and scale or replicate them for larger audiences or different geographical areas. Projects also may measure what is working in education and add to the body of knowledge about how people learn. Education grants are awarded based on having an innovative approach coupled with sound pedagogy and methodology; potential for impact on the education field; alignment with one of the Society’s lenses; the qualifications of the applicant and his or her team to complete their objectives; and a proven record of measurable success in their respective areas of expertise .

Example fields: K-12 formal education, adult education, informal education, community education, professional development, higher education

Example outputs: curricula, educational media, delivery platforms, research reports, action plans, educator or student publications, other evidence of change or impact on learners


Research grants support high-quality scientific projects that aim to answer clear questions with measurable outcomes that advance a particular field of knowledge. Established projects should be driven by testable hypotheses. Exploratory projects to demonstrate important data baselines are also encouraged. Research grants primarily support fieldwork expenses; however, the Society will also consider laboratory and technology costs as part of the overall project budget (in addition to stipend, where applicable). Research grants are awarded based on their scientific merit; the clarity and importance of the research questions and the methods used to answer them; qualifications of the applicant and his or her team to complete their objectives; and a proven record of disseminating previous results .

Example disciplines: anthropology, archaeology, biology, ecology, geography, geology, natural history, oceanography, paleontology, sociology

Example outputs: scientific publication, survey data report, map


Storytelling grants support people who pursue projects that demonstrate the power of science and exploration to change the world. Storytelling grants are awarded based on fresh story angles; potential of the project to reach its target audience; qualifications of the applicant and team; and alignment with one of the Society’s lenses. This focus area includes projects that strive to study how scientific storytelling can achieve measurable impacts. All applicants should demonstrate a proven record of successful media projects , and submitting a portfolio is strongly suggested. Projects may stand alone or be distinct components of larger efforts. Awarded funds will support field expenses and equipment, and budgets may include stipends to applicants without full-time, paid positions. Approval of a storytelling grant does not guarantee publication by National Geographic. Storytellers assigned to approved National Geographic media projects may apply if the grant proposal independently fulfills the Society’s institutional priorities.

Example disciplines: photography, filmmaking, cartography, journalism, digital media, graphic design, data visualization, audio design

Example outputs: photo exhibit or portfolio, short film (digital distribution or exhibitions), written article, mixed digital media story, infographic, podcast, oral presentation


Technology grants support the development of new technologies and methods or the innovative applications of existing technologies that can improve our ability to explore, protect, and tell the story of our world and its inhabitants. These grants are awarded based on how significantly the innovation will transform a particular problem or discipline; qualifications of the applicant and team; and a proven record of developing or deploying technology designs . Awarded funds support materials, fabrication, and other development costs, and budgets may include stipends. Applicants must secure the proper permits for any tests described in the project proposals, and proof-of-concept field trials are highly encouraged.

Example disciplines: mechanical engineering, computer science, microwave engineering, materials science

Example outputs: prototype, design document, source code, field test report, technical journal publication

Project Expenses:

National Geographic Society funds usually support travel (including for teams, students, and participants) and fieldwork (including equipment and supplies). A minority of the requested budget can be allocated for lab work or analyses.

Equipment requests (e.g., computers, cameras, sampling equipment) may be included in the budget, but you will need to explain how the equipment is integral to the project and not available through other sources of funding. Exceptions are occasionally considered on a case-by-case basis, and applicants should contact program staff before applying.

The National Geographic Society recognizes that conducting active fieldwork presents challenges for those responsible for child care and elder care. If you are the primary caregiver, or have an extenuating circumstance that would make it impossible to complete your fieldwork without additional funds for caregiving, the Society will allow expenses incurred due to caregiving. These costs must make up less than 25 percent of your total project budget and be no more than $5,000. If your regular caregiver is able to provide care or if you have another option for handling your caregiving needs, you are not eligible to include caregiving costs in your budget.

In order to include these costs in your proposal, please list the amount requested for caregiving under the Miscellaneous section of your application budget. Additionally, please provide details within that section to justify your need for dependent care and explain how you determined the caregiving budget (e.g., by hourly rate for a local caregiver, travel for the dependent). These funds can cover the cost of extra dependent care at home or on-site when grantees are in the field for their project, as situationally appropriate.

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  • Others (see text field entitled "Additional Eligibility Criteria" for clarification)

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

A Standard Grant application is a request for funding by an experienced project lead. The applicant and his or her team members are expected to demonstrate successful completion of similar projects with measurable and/or tangible results.

If you have received a grant from National Geographic in the past, you may submit a new proposal after you have closed your previous grant record

General Eligibility:

The National Geographic Society specifically encourages applicants from around the world. However, as a result of changes in Chinese law effective January 1, 2017, the National Geographic Society is unable to support new grantee work in mainland China. This applies to any projects conducted by mainland Chinese citizens anywhere and also applies to non-Chinese individuals or organizations proposing work in mainland China. The Society will still accept applications from residents of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau as long as the proposed work is outside of mainland China.

You might be required to obtain an Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) license through the U.S. Treasury before the National Geographic Society will deliberate on your application if you are a resident/citizen of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, or the Crimea region in Ukraine, or if you propose to conduct a project in one of these areas. See further information about these restrictions on the OFAC website. Please work with legal counsel to determine what authorizations are required.

Organizations may apply for a grant, but the person within the organization who will lead the project should be the applicant and will be expected to meet the requirements of the grant program.

If you are planning to work outside of your home country, you must include the name and contact information for at least one local collaborator as a project team member in the application. Please note that the National Geographic Society does not help with visas for work performed outside of your home country.

Grant awards will not cover funding for scholarships, tuition, training courses, travel to conferences, study abroad programs, or journal publication fees. Institutional overhead and administrative costs are not allowed except for specific request for proposal (RFP) projects with budgets of more than $50,000.

Pre-Application Information:

Applications should be submitted at least six months before the project start date, but please check the website for relevant deadlines.

If your project requires expedited funding due to unforeseen circumstances (e.g., volcanic eruption, sudden discovery, urgent threat), please email the Foundation and explain why your request is urgent, what you plan to do, and how much support you need.

All deadlines are 11:59 PM US Eastern Time. All future deadlines will occur on a quarterly basis.

Standard Grant Deadlines:
-October 3, 2017 (decision by January 31, 2018)
-January 3, 2018 (decision by April 30, 2018)

How to Apply:


Additional Funding Information:

Estimated Size of Grant:

Grants are typically funded for less than US $30,000. National Geographic Society will consider requests for up to US $50,000.

Term of Contract:

Standard Grant projects typically last one year or less.

Contact Information:

Apply Online:

The National Geographic Society
Grant Programs
1145 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036

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