National Geographic Society Early Career Grants
We are working to increase global understanding of our planet and create a community of change by advancing key insights about the world and probing some of the most pressing scientific questions of our time.
All proposed projects should be bold, innovative, and potentially transformative and have a primary focus in conservation, education, research, storytelling, or technology. Projects should also align to one of our three focus areas.
We do 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.
Please note that this is a highly competitive grant program; we receive many more applications than we are able to fund.
Project start dates should be a minimum of six months after the submission deadline to ensure any awarded funds are received in time. Learn more about our review process and timelines.
Our focus areas
National Geographic Society–funded projects should be bold, innovative, and transformative.
All proposed projects must be novel and exploratory and align to our mission and focus areas.
Wildlife includes species-focused projects and the local evolutionary and ecological processes that sustain them. Although 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 area of focus 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.
Human Journey focuses on learning more about who we are and what our future will be 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, we also seek projects that propose solutions to mitigate this imbalance.
Changing Planet grants focus on our Earth's dynamic terrestrial, marine, and freshwater ecosystems. These are the foundations of life on the planet, yet are increasingly threatened by exploitation, mismanagement, and climate change. We seek projects that illuminate these issues to better inform decision making and to develop more effective models for conservation and protected area management at large scales. This area of focus seeks to reduce negative human impacts on ecosystems and Earth processes by increasing knowledge, inspiring action, and creating solutions with direct, quantifiable, and scalable methods for conserving landscapes or seascapes.
Early Career Grant
Early Career Grants are designed to offer less experienced individuals an opportunity to lead a project.
Grant projects last one calendar year or less. If you apply for more than one year of funding, your proposal will be sent back to you to revise and resubmit for the next deadline. Projects are typically funded for US $5,000 and cannot exceed US $10,000.
There is no maximum age limit for Early Career Grant applicants. However, applicants must be at least 18 years old at the time of application submission. Applicants are not required to have an advanced degree. Anyone with more than five years of professional experience in the field of their project focus does not qualify for an Early Career Grant and should apply for an Exploration Grant instead.
If you have previously received an Early Career Grant or a Young Explorers Grant from National Geographic, you may submit a new proposal after you have closed your previous grant record.
Visit our How to Apply section to learn more about eligibility requirements and how to prepare your proposal. Early Career Grant applicants must also submit a two-minute video that will be used to help evaluate the proposal. You may speak in your primary language, but if that is not English, you MUST add English subtitles or attach an English video transcript.
PLEASE NOTE: APPLICATIONS ACCEPTED THROUGH APRIL 22. DECISIONS IN AUGUST 2020.
All applications must be submitted through our online application system . We do not accept mailed or emailed applications. All application materials must be submitted in English.
Early Career Grant and Exploration Grant projects last one year or less. Project start dates should be a minimum of six months after the submission deadline to ensure any awarded funds are received in time. See the Grant Opportunities page for information about exact deadlines.
Learn more about Preparing your Proposal.
You may submit a proposal as the project leader for only one project at a time. You must submit a final report and media from any previous grants for which you were the leader before applying to lead a new project.
Organizations can apply for grants, but the person within the organization who will lead the project—not the institution—should be the applicant and will be expected to meet the requirements of the grant.
Students should not submit in their advisor’s name. The individual responsible for carrying out the project should apply and write the application.
All applicants must be at least 18 years old at the time they submit an application. There is no upper age limit for Early Career Grants. However, if you have more than five years of full-time, professional experience in the field of your project focus, you do not qualify for an Early Career Grant. Time in graduate school does not count toward this experience limit. Visit our Grant Opportunities page for more information about grant types.
We encourage applications from around the world. If you are planning to work outside of your home country or community, 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 assist with visas. Learn more about our regional offices and programs.
Current Grant Restrictions
At this time, National Geographic can not fund work in North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Crimea due to U.S. legal restrictions concerning projects in these countries. For additional information about these restrictions please refer to the U.S Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) website.
Cuba: All applicants must specify which type of OFAC general license applies to the proposed project and how they will comply with the general license requirements.
You are prohibited from engaging in any grant-funded work with any individual or organization who is on the Specially Designated National (SDN) list maintained by the U.S. Treasury. Again, please work with your legal counsel if you have any questions.
Ethics and Anti-Corruption Compliance
Applicants are responsible for securing all necessary permits and agreeing to the National Geographic Society’s ethics policies. Grant applications require compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the U.K. Bribery Act, and other anti-corruption laws. Virtually every country where we conduct grant-related activities has laws that prohibit corruption, including bribery. Some of these laws apply globally, including the U.S. FCPA and the U.K. Bribery Act. We take compliance with these laws very seriously. We expect our grantees to maintain the highest standards of ethical behavior, honesty, fairness, and transparency. We do not pay bribes or engage in other forms of corrupt financial conduct, and we will not tolerate a grantee or anyone else doing so with our funds.
Read our entire Code of Ethics here.
Award guidelines and requirements
If you are awarded a grant, we'll need a few documents and materials from you to get your grant started and release funds. Please review the individual grant agreement or institutional grant agreement you will sign if awarded funding. All your onboarding documents and requirements can be found in the Resources section of the Grants Portal.
During the application process you will be asked to add and categorize the expected results and outputs of your project. If your grant is awarded, you will be expected to report back on these results at the time of your final report.