National Geographic Society Exploration 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.
The National Geographic Society currently offers three types of grant applications—Early Career, Exploration, and Requests for Proposals
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.
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.
An Exploration Grant application is a request for funding by an experienced project leader in the areas of conservation, education, research, storytelling, and technology. 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.
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 between US $10,000 and US $30,000.
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.
You may submit a proposal as the project leader for only one project at a time. However, you may be a project member or co-applicant on multiple grants simultaneously. 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.
We encourage applications from around the world. 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 assist with visas.
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.
2019 Quarterly Grant Cycles
- Applications accepted through January 9. Decisions in May.
- Applications accepted through April 10. Decisions in August.
- Applications accepted through July 10. Decisions in November.
- Applications accepted through October 9. Decisions in February 2020.