Funding Opportunity: Earthwatch Research Project Grant

About the Organization

In 1971, building off of the momentum of this growing environmental movement, Earthwatch was founded. Through its unique citizen science model, Earthwatch empowered individuals to take collective action through scientific research and conservation. By pairing scientists with non-scientists in research locations around the world, Earthwatch filled a unique niche—it provided an outlet for people from all walks of life to study and conserve the natural world.

Throughout its history, Earthwatch has expanded upon this quest for knowledge, adapting and responding to emerging environmental threats. Our mission, our focus, and our values have never been more important than they are today. We are uniquely positioned to mobilize the scientists, volunteers, and resources needed to protect the planet when it needs us the most.

Earthwatch operates on the proven belief that individual actions can create massive, multiplicative change in the world

About the Grant

We support research projects that produce rigorous, relevant, and impactful science, address global change, and actively involve citizen-scientist participants. We distribute requests for proposals (RFPs) annually. We evaluate proposals based on scientific merit, appropriateness of citizen-scientist activities, expected project outcomes and impacts, safety, and logistics.

Earthwatch funding is intended to be supplemental to other sources of funding. Annual budgets for projects with long-duration teams range between US $20,000–$80,000, with most of that covering volunteer and staff expenses while in the field. Final grants are provided on a per-capita basis based on the number of participants. Research projects are tenable for three years, subject to annual performance review, and may be eligible for renewal beyond that period. We pride ourselves on our capacity for long-term support of research projects, averaging between 10–11 years of support across the projects available for public recruitment.

Earthwatch takes the safety of all people involved in projects we support very seriously. Therefore, we are unable to support research projects in certain regions of the world due to safety concerns, with no exceptions.

To fit our citizen-science model, unless otherwise stated in the request for proposals, all proposed projects must:

  • Have quantifiable goals and measurable impacts of action taken by the project;
  • Have a 3-year or longer duration (longer-term research will receive priority support);
  • Incorporate field-based research and data collection, with participants sufficiently trained while in the field;
  • Have data gathered primarily by citizen-scientist participants recruited by Earthwatch;
  • Field a minimum of four (4) research teams per year (the average project fields 6-8 teams per year), with 4–15 participants per team as needed for data collection;
  • Field research teams are typically 7–9 days in length, with some projects hosting 10–14-day teams;
  • Provide reputable housing for volunteers within a 45-minute drive from site;
  • Field adult, high school and college student, teacher, and/or corporate groups;
  • Be run in English, with all communications by field staff and supporting documents in English;
  • Educate volunteers about the project’s science and its relevance to global priorities;
  • Prioritize locally run vendors, partners and businesses in preparing field logistics (including food), with a focus on those that adhere to sustainable business practices; 
  • Collaborate with local community stakeholders through engagement, outreach and contributions to conservation actions;


All pre-proposals must be submitted by the PI, who will be responsible for all scientific oversight of the proposed research and analyses. The lead PI, or at least one member of the research team must have a Ph.D. in the field of the proposed research and an affiliation with a university, government or tribal agency, or science-focused NGO, or collaborate with a co-investigator that meets those qualifications. Earthwatch encourages members of groups historically underrepresented in STEM, scientists local to the nation where the research takes place, and early career scientists, to apply. University labs (advisors + grad students) provide a strong and successful approach for our model. In that context, we encourage graduate student participation in projects as research technicians, and are able to include per diem stipends in the research budgets for these roles.

We strongly encourage scientists with an interest in working with 15- to 18-year-old students to apply for funding. PIs and support staff with relevant experience should highlight this experience in their proposal.

While in the field, Earthwatch participants must be led by scientifically qualified personnel. We encourage the presence of the PI in the field, though trained field staff may lead some of the teams. The researcher leading Earthwatch participants must have experience leading groups afield. The leader must be fluent in English, familiar with Earthwatch safety protocols and guidelines, and certified in first aid. Additionally, that individual must be able to communicate about the research effectively with participants, respond to questions, and connect the research to a larger global context.

How to Apply

To submit a pre-proposal for review, please visit our Submission Portal.

Pre-proposals for new research projects to begin in 2025 will be accepted through Friday, June 9, 2023.

For more information please check the Link

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