In response to worldwide disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Geographic Society is providing funding for projects focused on how humanity and the natural world have reacted to and are living through the unparalleled circumstances created by COVID-19 in order to better understand how this pandemic—or the threat of another—will shape our world for years to come. Proposed projects should seek to better understand and/or provide solutions to the situations created or magnified by the pandemic, thereby helping us to understand and address the challenges and changes of living in a COVID-19 world.

This fund invites research, conservation, and technology projects on the following two (2) topics; below are examples of the types of questions and projects that the Society would like to receive:

Community-based and inclusive wildlife and cultural heritage site conservation.

  • How have community and grassroots organizations dedicated to the conservation and protection of wildlife and cultural heritage sites been impacted by COVID-19?
  • How have organizations continued their conservation activities during the pandemic? What types of new models or innovative approaches to conservation are being tried?
  • How are local communities that have depended on external visitors or revenues for their livelihoods and other conservation activities, adapting to the new context?
  • With people unable to afford to stay in cities, how are rural communities shaped and changed by people returning?
  • Given the ongoing economic crises due to COVID-19, what lessons can be applied post pandemic to support sustainable and just economic recovery in areas with high biodiversity and/or cultural heritage resources?

Impacts of tourism changes on cultural heritage sites and wildlife.

  • How have changes in global and/or domestic tourism affected wildlife, protected area management, cultural heritage site conservation, and the livelihoods and well-being of nearby communities?
  • What lessons can be applied for when/if tourism returns?
  • How has tourism been re-invented during the pandemic? What types of new models or innovative approaches to tourism are being tried?
  • Some natural and cultural heritage areas may have seen increased domestic and local tourism as a result of the pandemic – what are the impacts, if any?

Only applications that propose activity in the applicant’s country of residence will be considered.

Budgets: Funding requests of up to $50,000 will be accepted for review. For this fund, the National Geographic Society prioritizes funding for costs directly required to complete the proposed project, such as travel, lodging, food (including for team members), as well as fieldwork and lab-based work (including equipment and supplies). Applicants may also request money to cover safety-related costs, such as for COVID-19 tests, buying masks for their team, cleaning supplies, medical insurance, travel insurance, vaccinations, medication, etc. Applicants may request money for compensation, indirect costs and dependent care. All budget line items must include written justification in the provided template. Applications will be reviewed based on the budget request.

Safety: Proposed activities must prioritize your health, the health of your team, and the health of communities in which you work, and the application should outline the specific steps that will be taken to ensure safety throughout the project duration. Applicants should check with local health and safety guidelines before embarking on any travel to ensure that they are in adherence with relevant laws and policy. Proposed work that may put the applicant, collaborators, and/or local communities at risk will be declined. Applicants should demonstrate how their proposed project takes into account the needs, safety, and preferences of communities local to the project site. Applications will be reviewed based on plans for safety and feasibility.

Download sample applications below to use as a reference to help prepare your proposal:

All application materials must be in English, and applicants must be at least 18 years old at the time they submit an application.

Statement of interest will be accepted through 11:59 p.m. EDT March 31, 2021.

Please submit here.

Applicants will receive decisions on their statement of interest by April 8, 2021. Full applications will be due by 11:59pm EDT May 19, 2021. Applicants will receive a funding decision in summer 2021. Proposed project activities should occur after funding decisions are made. Please allow at least four weeks for submitting award paperwork and payment processing.

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