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Subject: Request for Proposals: National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative Grants Program


The Big Cats Initiative seeks to advance conservation efforts benefitting the world’s Big Cat populations, protecting and restoring them and their habitats via an interconnected series of innovative field‐based, action‐oriented strategic programs.  These goals are facilitated via the Big Cats Initiative Grants Program, which is intended to identify, seek, and support conservation solutions, whether innovative or traditional, across the globe. Contributing to BCI’s ultimate mission of halting and reversing big cat population decline, the grants program will drive a broad spectrum of conservation, education, development, and scientific ventures.

Since 2010, the BCI has funded more than more than $1.4 Million in support of 49 big cat conservation projects across 21 countries worldwide. 

Although, early focus for the BCI was exclusively on lions and cheetahs in Africa, the BCI has now expanded its funding priorities to include all big cat species and we are currently seeking new applications for projects engaged in the conservation of big cat populations across the globe.


The BCI Grants Program awards grants on a rolling basis for projects directly addressing the conservation needs of big cats.  The variety of projects supported by the BCI grants will seek but not be limited to addressing problems that arise when big cats are seen as “problem animals,” education campaigns, outreach programs occurring on grassroots and international levels, assessing cat populations in least‐known regions under significant threat, and testing innovative techniques or technologies to aid in big cat conservation.  Largely academic, survey, or research-based applications have traditionally been less successful versus conservation action-based proposals.

Following completion of each initial BCI grants project, its likelihood of success and potential for greater implementation in later phases of the BCI will be evaluated and prioritized.

Recipients will be field-based conservationists, environmental educators, students, researchers, and advocates for the Initiative’s missions and programs. Recipients of BCI grant funds will be expected to act as agents of the greater BCI mission, participating in and reporting on multiple aspects of BCI fieldwork, in addition to their own proposed and mission‐aligned pilot projects.


The intention of the BCI Grants program is to provide rapid response and allocation of funding for programs addressing the urgent needs for big cat conservation in localities across the globe. Applications are accepted at any time and will be reviewed on a rolling basis, with decisions being made on an at-least-quarterly basis. Pre‐ applications must be submitted prior to full application requests. Responses to pre‐applications will generally be no more than 2 business weeks (10 working days). Full applications will be reviewed as soon as possible after receipt.  Generally speaking, the interval between full application submission and decision will be no more than three months, and is usually shorter.


Big Cats grants are intended for immediate application to field‐based issues and problems facing big cat populations throughout their range.  While there is no limit to the amount that can be requested, the average size of initial BCI grants has traditionally been approximately $25,000-$30,000, while the range of projects currently funded spans from $10,000 to $90,000.  Applicants and recipients are not precluded from submitting multiple or repeat applications.  As indicated above, the most successful programs, following initial grants, may also be eligible for mutually-coordinated programmatic scale-ups.  Applicants are encouraged to discuss their proposals with BCI staff at any time before, during, or after the pre‐application or full application process.


BCI grants are not intended to be used for indirect costs, overhead, legal actions, and other expenses not directly related to the proposed project. Unless absolutely integral to the proposed project, BCI grants funds may not be used for salaries, conferences, construction, or land acquisition.


The instructions for online applications may be found via the BCI website:  If the applicant does not have access to a reliable internet connection, and MS Word document format of the application is available, on request, from program staff (

The Big Cats Grants Program accepts applications throughout the year. Response to full application submission, like the procedures for the preapplication process, will follow receipt as soon as possible. Responses will fall no later than those outlined above. In most cases, decisions and allocations will be made sooner.

Please visit the Big Cats Initiative website at  for more information or link directly to to begin your BCI application process.  Please direct questions and/or comments to

Previous National Geographic Society grantees must first comply with all prior reporting and financial‐accounting obligations before submitting applications for additional support.

Luke Dollar <>
Monday, February 17, 2014

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