Advice for Applying for a National Geographic Young Explorer Grant


Sometimes I get messages from people I’ve never met asking for advice on being an explorer or how to apply for a National Geographic Young Explorer Grant. Here’s part of a recent response I thought I’d share:


I was also an Eagle Scout, and I’ve always spent a lot of time outdoors finding new places to adventure to. Pushing myself to travel and to constantly be curious about the stories I heard from those I met gave me direction for my Young Explorer Grant. It took four years from when I first stumbled upon the National Geographic Young Explorer Grant to when I applied with my Rim of Africa project. I only applied once I had a story that was:


1) fascinating and exciting (you got to have a hook),

2) with substance (you’ve got to have a story that needs to be told—something that matters),

3) only able to be told by myself.


Realizing that I was the first person to grasp the story of the Rim of Africa the way I was attempting to and that I had a unique combination of interests (backpacking, conservation, multimedia, storytelling, etc) to make it happened helped me apply.


Once you have your idea, you need to figure out how you are going to share your project with as many people as possible. Videos? Website? Presentations? Book? Some sponsors only support if they are being seen supporting, make it worth their money.


If you’re able to push your imagination to create a dream larger than everybody else’s, you’ll be able to attract donations, sponsors, and grants. And almost more importantly, you’ll be able to attract team members and partners, volunteers to help with tasks large and small, and the network of support that you’ll need when things get tough.


If you have an idea and you want feedback, feel free to send it my way. Also, way to go for making a website. Most of my travel has been paid for by website design, its a good tool to keep with you.


Best — Jay

Honest—I’m open to anyone who wants feedback on their ideas. Contact me at