Fund for Environmental Journalism Proposal Guidelines




DEADLINE: Proposals will be accepted through NOVEMBER 15, 2017, midnight local time.


Journalists working independently or on the staff of news organizations (for-profit or non-profit) are eligible for grants from the Fund for Environmental Journalism.

SEJ membership is not required, but all applicants must meet SEJ's membership eligibility requirements.

If your work involves lobbying, media relations or public relations on environment-related issues, you will not be eligible for membership in SEJ.  Please review requirements if you are not sure.

Applicants for FEJ story grants are limited to receipt of one grant per two-year period and two grants per five-year period. Prospective applicants who have served on the Society of Environmental Journalists board of directors, staff or FEJ grantee selection jury must observe a one-year blackout period before applying.

Story project grants from the Fund for Environmental Journalism of the Society of Environmental Journalists 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. FEJ 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 for grants from SEJ’s Fund for Environmental Journalism will be accepted through November 15, 2017, midnight local time.   Prepare ahead to submit all files in PDF format. Do not exceed maximum word count for narrative and page limit for support documents.

You will submit your proposal through an online form calling for:

  • Contact information, project title, brief summary of topic and dissemination plan (up to 200 words), type of media, expected date of project completion, amount requested and types of expenses in your budget (travel, production, stipend if freelance).  See below for budget guidelines.

You’ll complete your application by uploading the following, in PDF format:

_____Narrative, 1000 words maximum. Longer 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 approve the project description to be used 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 these guidelines before writing your budget.  Journalists and news organizations 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.

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

Your budget should balance. List and tally sources of project support. Include the FEJ grant requested and any other funds, secured and pending, including “in-kind” values if appropriate (donated goods or services). List line items for each eligible expense. You can provide the budget in spreadsheet or document format, saved to PDF for upload. Examples of eligible expenses: travel costs*; document access fees; production costs for multimedia; professional fees for analysis, photograph, graphic design for data visualization or story-specific website development; FOIA filing costs; and translation services. *Support travel expense lines (airfare, mileage or lodging) with a note, for example “airfare per search of XX date, XX airline for XX travel dates.”

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).

Journalists on staff at media outlets are not eligible to receive stipend payments from FEJ grants.  Other expenses NOT eligible for funding: equipment purchase or maintenance, and indirect expense (rent, utilities, phone costs).

If your project budget exceeds the requested grant from the Fund for Environmental Journalism, state whether or not the project would proceed without FEJ funds.  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 the FEJ grant to SEJ.

Applicants based outside of North America must give consideration to how they will pay the application fee and receive grant funds. No more than $100 of a grant may be spent on accessing the funds. SEJ reserves the right to withdraw offer of an FEJ grant if funds transfer is overly complicated.


  • What is the news value of the project?
  • Do international partnership elements enrich the journalism and potential impact of the project?
  • If the topic is broad or familiar, does the project make an original contribution?
  • How strong is the publication/dissemination plan for the completed work? Who is the potential audience? What is its potential number?
  • How strong is the connection between the proposed expense (i.e., travel plan, training plan, consulting expense) and the quality or quantity of eventual environmental journalism outputs?
  • What are the qualifications and track record of the applicant? Applicants should have the same professional profile as members of the Society of Environmental Journalists. If you are unsure, please read the SEJ membership guidelines.

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