National Geographic Society Standard Grants
The National Geographic Society awards grants for conservation, education, research, storytelling, and technology through its Committee for Research and Exploration. All proposed projects must be novel and exploratory, and be of broad interest. National Geographic Society grant-funded projects should be bold, innovative, 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.
Our three lenses
The Human Journey
The Human Journey focuses on learning more about who we are and what our future is on this planet. It supports projects in a range of fields that are helping us understand the origins and development of our species; how we modified and adapted to diverse landscapes across the globe; the evolution of cultures and societies; and the current status of and trends in our cultural, linguistic, and genetic diversity. Recognizing that human society is currently out of balance with the natural world, this lens also seeks projects that propose solutions to mitigate this imbalance. The Human Journey supports innovative leaders in research, conservation, technology, education, and communication who will change human attitudes and behaviors to help protect the cultural and natural resources of this planet and secure our future.
- How will your project advance our understanding of how our species evolved and migrated across the globe?
- What will your project tell us about past societies that is relevant to the present and future?
- How will your project reveal the current status of human diversity on this planet, and address threats to that diversity?
- What will your project tell us about how human beings and human societies shape and are shaped by the environment around them?
- How will your project use innovations in technology, storytelling, and education that will inspire people to better understand and protect the cultural and natural resources of this planet, and work to make these resources more resilient?
Wildlife and Wild Places
Wildlife and Wild Places includes projects on all living organisms, where they live, and the local evolutionary and ecological processes that sustain them. While extinction is a natural part of evolution, the current accelerated loss of species means that we need novel approaches and solutions that support biological diversity and abundance. This lens supports projects that seek to discover and identify species and ecosystems, and to mitigate threats to Earth’s life-forms. Projects will improve understanding of biological diversity, including behavior, life history, evolution, ecology, and habitat requirements. Wildlife and Wild Places supports innovative leaders in research, conservation, technology, education, and communication who will engage society and leverage action to protect the biological diversity of this planet.
- How will your project advance our understanding of the biological diversity that exists on the planet, and how it is distributed?
- How will your project determine what factors are involved in the origin, evolution, and maintenance of biodiversity?
- What will your project tell us about how different organisms and interactions maintain the equilibrium of ecosystems, and what behaviors and interactions allow organisms to adapt and persist in their rapidly changing environments?
- How will your project fill gaps in our knowledge needed to effectively mitigate threats to wildlife?
- How will your project use innovations in technology, storytelling, and education that will inspire people to better understand and protect other species and their habitats, and work to help species and their habitats become more resilient?
Our Changing Planet
Our Changing Planet comprises projects looking at a spectacular variety of ever-changing systems on land and in the sea. The dynamic ecosystems of the Earth and its ocean provide the energy, minerals, food, and water that sustain life on the planet, yet they are increasingly threatened by exploitation, mismanagement, and climate change. Because our remarkable species can also provide solutions to environmental problems, we must understand these processes to develop more informed decisions. This lens seeks to reduce negative impacts on ecosystems, Earth processes, and human societies by increasing knowledge and inspiring action to develop effective solutions. Our Changing Planet supports innovative leaders in conservation, education, research, storytelling, and technology who seek a deeper understanding of Earth and its systems, as well as those who seek practical solutions for conserving large natural spaces on land and in the sea to promote long-term sustainability.
- How will your project advance our understanding of the geological and biological history of Earth, and how does this knowledge inform our present and future?
- How will your project reveal gaps in our knowledge of Earth and ocean ecosystems and processes (including climate, tectonics, and geohazards), and how can we use that knowledge to better inform decisions and protect human communities?
- What will your project tell us about better ways to manage and protect large natural spaces on land and in the sea?
- How will your project provide innovative insights into, or solutions for, mitigating carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere?
- How will your project use innovations in technology, storytelling, and education that will inspire people to better understand and protect the Earth, and work for a more sustainable future?
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. Applications should be submitted at least six months before the project start date, but please check the website for relevant deadlines.
Grants are typically funded for less than US $30,000. We will consider requests for up to US $50,000.
If your project requires expedited funding due to unforeseen circumstances (e.g., volcanic eruption, sudden discovery, urgent threat), please email us and explain why your request is urgent, what you plan to do, and how much support you need. Please note that receiving a last-minute notification that you are able to participate in a project is not grounds for expedited funding.
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 (not required for Early Career Grants). We encourage 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 (not required for Early Career Grants).
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 (not required for Early Career Grants).
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, we 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 (not required for Early Career Grants).
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 (not required for Early Career Grants), 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 (not required for Early Career Grants). 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