National Geographic Early Career Explorers supported by Sky Ocean Rescue

Sky and National Geographic are looking for the next generation of ocean heroes. Together, we are offering eligible explorers funding and support to run marine-based projects, and the opportunity to become ambassadors for Sky Ocean Rescue. Working with you, we will capture and share the outcomes of your projects, including potential innovative solutions, to raise awareness of the issues surrounding ocean health.

This call offers less experienced individuals an opportunity to lead a project and enhance the impact of their work. If you have previously received a grant from the National Geographic Society, you are eligible to apply for this call once your previous project has been finished and provided you have submitted your final report before the application deadline (1st January 2018).

Three of the successful awardees will then be eligible for additional funding and support from Sky through its Sky Ocean Rescue Initiative. Sky will provide additional funding to enhance the impact of the projects through public engagement activities. As part of the wider Sky Scholars programme, additional support will be available including media training, personal development, and mentoring. If you do not wish to be considered for the additional funding or support from Sky, please do not select Sky Ocean Rescue under RFP, but instead apply for an Early Career Grant. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Aurora Elmore, Senior Program Officer, Our Changing Planet.

Grants are typically funded for less than US $5,000. However, we will consider requests for up to US $10,000, to be used over a maximum of one year. Applications should be submitted in English through our online portal —please select: Changing Planet for Lens, Early Career for Grant Type, and Sky Ocean Rescue for RFP. The deadline for applications is 1st January 2018.


To be eligible for this grant you must:

  • Be passionate about protecting marine spaces and enhancing our understanding of the ocean, and be willing and excited to convey this to the general public.
  • Propose a research, technology, or conservation project that will advance our knowledge of the ocean and the challenges it currently faces (e.g., climate change, coastal development, pollution, threats to biodiversity, microplastics, unsustainable fishing practices); develop technology to advance ocean exploration or protection; or effect changes in policy or behaviour, including through community-based projects that will protect the future of the ocean. Preference will be given to projects focused on the North Sea, North Atlantic, and Mediterranean.
  • Be studying for—or have recently completed—a master’s or Ph.D. in a relevant subject OR be working in ocean conservation or marine technology with less than six years of experience in the field.
  • Be born after January 1, 1986.
  • Propose a unique and independently led project that will start between 1st May and 1st August 2018 and involve marine-based work in Europe. The project should show a desire to take risks, think differently, and push the boundaries of what is possible.
  • Demonstrate a wide reach for the project (e.g., in terms of direct beneficiaries, potential audience, scale of impact).
  • Hold citizenship or permanent residency status in either Italy, Germany, Austria, the UK, or Ireland.*

For this call, in addition to the written proposal, applicants must also create and submit a video. You can upload your video to Vimeo or YouTube and provide a link and password to the video within the application in the Project Description section, under Question 2: “Please explain why National Geographic is uniquely positioned to facilitate this work.” The video submission can be in English, Italian, or German, according to your residency.

For the video, please record yourself on camera for less than two minutes, answering at least one of the following questions:

  • Why are you so passionate about the ocean?
  • How does your work protect the ocean?
  • What can other people do to protect the ocean?

*Individuals who do not hold permanent residency in any of these countries are eligible to apply for our ongoing grant program, but are not eligible for this specific Ocean call.

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