Fund for Environmental Journalism Proposal Guidelines


Fund for Environmental Journalism

Winter 2019 Round of Competition


Journalism Projects Covering U.S. Public Lands


DEADLINE: November 15, 2019, 11:59 p.m. local time; extended to Monday, November 18.


SEJ members in good standing may apply with no fee, as can members of diversity journalism associations (e.g., National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Association of Black Journalists, Native American Journalists Association, Asian American Journalists Association, South Asian Journalists Association, Association of LGBTQ Journalists). If you are a member of such an association (and NOT a member of SEJ), please email for the coupon that will waive the FEJ application fee; please provide proof of your membership in the applicable journalism association.

Non-members whose professional work meets SEJ's membership eligibility requirements, may apply with $40 fee. If you apply and are approved for SEJ membership during the grant application review period, your fee can be applied to first-year membership dues — also $40. 

Please note that the SEJ membership application is a completely separate form and process from the FEJ grant application. Join here. (Eligibility criteria apply. See policy.)  If your paid work involves lobbying, media relations or public relations on environment-related issues, you will not be eligible for SEJ membership or FEJ grant funding.

FEJ applicants are limited to receipt of one grant per two-year period and two grants per five-year period.

Any journalist may apply unless he or she is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists board of directors, staff or FEJ grantee selection jury. Prospective applicants who previously served on the SEJ board of directors, staff or FEJ grantee selection jury must observe a one-year blackout period before applying.

Story project grants can be provided only when opportunities are funded in advance through foundation grants and individual donations. SEJ will announce new categories and new deadlines when new underwriting can be secured.

PLEASE NOTE: All application materials must be in English. Sorry, we cannot accept proposals via email, fax or mail. Grants are paid in US dollars via bank check. If electronic funds transfer is necessary for payment of your grant, fees will be deducted from your grant.


Applications will be accepted through November 15, 2019, 11:59 p.m. local time.  

Prepare ahead and gather information you’ll need when filling out the application form and submitting proposal, budget, other support docs in PDF format.

The online application form calls for: Contact information, project title, brief summary of topic and dissemination plan (up to 100 words), type of media for finished work, expected date of project completion, amount requested.

See checklist below for proposal, budget and other files you will be asked to upload to complete your application.

See below for tips from judges on how to make your proposal more competitive. Do not exceed maximum word count for narrative and page limit for support documents.

You’ll fill out form and complete your application by uploading the following in PDF format:

_____Narrative, 1000 words maximumLonger narratives will not be reviewed. Our review panel's #1 tip is this: “Get to the point.” Make a short, simple case for your project as unique, important and well developed. Provide detail on focus of story, timeline, budget notes and dissemination plan. SEJ will keep your ideas confidential at all times. If your project is selected, you will be asked to approve the project description SEJ will use in public announcement.

_____Résumé of qualifications. Include links to past work (2 pages maximum)

_____Letter of support/commitment from editor(s) to publish or broadcast finished work. Without a strong dissemination plan your proposal will be much less competitive.

_____Budget. Please review all guidelines and tips before writing your budget.   Applicants may request up to $5,000 to cover eligible expenses. Please apply for the minimum budget required for success of the project. Funds can be used for story expenses incurred only after the FEJ grantee agreement is signed and returned to SEJ with IRS W-9 tax form. Funds may not be used to reimburse past expenses on a project; only expenses that would be incurred after receipt of award notification and cosigned agreement can be covered. Partial funding may be offered.

Your budget should balance. List and tally sources of project support, any other funds, secured and pending, including “in-kind” values if appropriate (donated goods or services). List line items for each eligible expense.

Examples of eligible expenses: Airfare, lodging, ground transportation, meals during travel, document access fees; production costs for multimedia; professional fees for translation, graphic design, data visualization or story-specific website development; FOIA filing costs.

Stipend: Freelancers may request stipend funding up to $2,000 for compensation of reporting time. Stipends are intended to supplement rather than replace standard fees paid by media outlets distributing the work. For personnel lines, whether for professional services and/or stipend, include a name, number of hours and the hourly rate it’s based upon ($35/hour suggested).

Expenses NOT eligible for funding: Equipment purchase or maintenance and indirect expense (rent, utilities, phone costs).

If your project budget exceeds the requested grant, state whether or not the project would proceed without the FEJ grant.

Grantees will agree to report on use of funds within a year of grant payment and return any unspent funds. If your project cannot be completed, you will be expected to return grant funds to SEJ.

U.S. taxpayers will return a W-9 form to SEJ and later receive a 1099 tax form (at the start of the year that follows the year you receive your grant). You’ll want to document project expenses for your tax return and should anticipate paying income tax on stipend (compensation) funding.

SEJ issues FEJ grants in U.S. dollars via bank checks, not EFT or Wire Transfer. Applicants based outside the U.S. must give consideration to how they will receive and deposit grant funds.

See below for additional tips from judges.

_____(Optional) links to clips of past work or other supporting docs. Three maximum.


  • What is the news value of the project? If the topic is broad or familiar, does the project make an original contribution?
  • TIP: Focus on what makes it new or original, or how it would advance a story that's already gotten coverage. Include some context, recognizing that there are very few stories that have never gotten any attention before. And provide at least a brief summary of how you would go about reporting or telling this story. Address logistics, timing and key figures to be featured. Don’t worry, we’ll keep details of your plan confidential.


  • How strong is the publication/dissemination plan for the completed work? Who is the potential audience? What is its potential number?
  • TIP: Don't just tell us so-and-so will publish or air your work; include a letter or letters of commitment. If editors won't commit, at least get letters expressing interest from the outlet or outlets to which you'll be submitting the story or stories. Lacking those, we only have your word your story will see the light of day, which reminds us of the old journalism saying, "If your mother says she loves you, check it out."


  • How well thought out is your budgets? How clear is the connection between the proposed expense and the quality or quantity of the published or broadcast reports to come?
  • TIPS: Back up your budget. Show the basis of your expense calculations. Too many entries simply list numbers without any explanation of how they were arrived at. Identify the airline consulted and airfare given, the car rental company and rate quoted, etc. For less routine expenses like translation, guides, fixers, documents, again, give some info about the market or region in which you plan to report, research from calls, to back up your estimates.


  • What are the qualifications and track record of the applicant?
  • Applicants must be members of SEJ in good standing or qualified for SEJ membership. If your professional profile has changed and you are no longer eligible for membership in SEJ, you will not be eligible for the grant. If you are unsure, please read the SEJ membership guidelines.




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