NSS International Exploration Grants

National Speleological Society

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Grant amount: US $500 - US $1,500

Next deadline: Jul 1, 2020

Later deadlines: Jan 1, 2021

Applicant type: Individuals

Funding uses: Research

Membership: Applicants must be a member of this organization to apply. Become a member.

Location of project: Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Europe, Oceania Show all

Location of residency: United States

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About this funder:




National Speleological Society International Exploration Grants foster and encourage the work of NSS cavers in cave exploration, survey and research projects around the world. Grants are given in support of group equipment for expeditions outside of the United States and its territories. Grants in past years and have supported work on 6 continents by dozens of US cavers.

Projects have included work in Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Borneo, Chile, Nepal, China, and many more countries. As few as three and as many as ten grants have been given in a single year. 

The grant program has undergone several significant recent changes. A few years ago the grant was endowed under the leadership of Don Paquette with funds from the NSS International Speleological Participation Fund, the Gunung Buda Project, and in honor of the life of Joe Ivy.

While this brought stability and consistency to the grant program, it also effectively reduced the amount of money available to be given out as grants each year from around $1600 to $1000 – a significant reduction.

All of this has now changed again, however, because deceased NSS Caver Ron Simmons very generously remembered this NSS fund in his life insurance policy. Over $100,000 was added to the endowment for this fund thanks to Ron.

His contribution to international American caving is going to be huge. We expect that starting with the 2008-2009 NSS fiscal year to be able to grant up to $6000 each year. In light of this the NSS International Exploration Committee (Joel Despain, chair, Cyndie Walck, Pat Kambesis, Kevin Downey, Carol Vesely, and Becky Jones) has reorganized the grant giving process.

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


  • Int'l Exploration Grants supports NSS members in int'l cave exploration and survey projects.
  • Must be a group expedition outside of the United States and its territories.
  • Project should be a  cave exploration, survey, or research project.
  • Grants can be used for group equipment.
    • This includes, but is not limited to, rope, survey gear, SAR gear, guides and porters, ground or boat transportation and other in-country travel, group meals, and specialty food such as freeze dried.
  • One grant per year, generally the largest, will be known as the Ron Simmons Award in honor of Ron’s contribution to the International Exploration Fund.

You must be a member of this organization to apply for this award - become a member.


  • The Committee is not prepared to fund expeditions whose results are secret or to be kept from other cavers. However, specific cave location information need not be shared.
  • Group equipment generally does not include personal plane tickets and personal caving gear.