National Geographic Society - Early Career Grant

National Geographic Society

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Grant amount: US $5,000 - US $10,000

Next deadline: Jul 10, 2019 8:59pm PDT

Later deadlines: Oct 9, 2019 8:59pm PDT, Jan 9, 2020 8:59pm PST, Apr 10, 2020 8:59pm PDT

Applicant type: Graduate Student Undergraduate Student Unaffiliated Researcher Research Scientist

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Research, Applied Project / Program

Location of project: Africa; Americas; Antarctica; Europe; Oceania Expand all

Location of residency: Anywhere in the world

Age restriction: At least 18 years of age

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About this funder:



Our Explorers are Changing the World

Our primary objectives are to further understanding of our planet and empower the global community to generate solutions for a healthier and more sustainable future.

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. 

Applications should be submitted at least six months prior to the proposed project start date to ensure any awarded funds are received in time.

Early Career Grant

Early Career Grants are designed to offer less experienced individuals an opportunity to lead a project.

Grants are typically funded for between US $5,000 and 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. 

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.

Focus Areas

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.

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.

The Human Journey

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

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.

Our Investment Strategy

Read below to see how we invest in bold people and transformative ideas in the fields of conservation, education, research, storytelling, and technology. Our goal is to identify, cultivate, and develop the changemakers and solutions of today and tomorrow.


These grants 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. Applicants must propose projects that result in or inform tangible solutions that contribute to the conservation of natural resources or the long-term survival of cultural resources.


These grants aim to help educators 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.


These 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 pilot new methods or gather 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 a stipend, where applicable).


These grants support projects that demonstrate the power of science and exploration to change the world. Applicants should show a record of successful media projects, and must submit a portfolio. Projects may stand alone or be distinct components of larger efforts. Awarded funds will support field expenses, equipment, and stipends for freelancers. Approval of a storytelling grant does not guarantee publication by National Geographic media.


These grants support the development of new technologies and methods or the innovative application of existing technologies that can improve our ability to explore, protect, and tell the story of our world and its inhabitants. Awarded funds support materials, fabrication, and other development costs. Applicants must secure the proper permits for any tests described in the project proposals, and are highly encouraged to conduct proof-of-concept field trials.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Project Leadership
    • 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.
  • Age Restrictions
    • 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.
  • Citizenship
    • 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


  • We do not usually consider applications that support strictly laboratory or collections work.
  • 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.
    • Time in graduate school does not count toward this experience limit.
  • 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 individual or organization proposing work in mainland China, regardless of citizenship.
    • We will still accept applications from residents of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau as long as the proposed work is outside of mainland China. 
  • 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.