Photo by Leakey Foundation Grantee, Kevin Langergraber.

Application Guidelines

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Granting Cycle Due Dates

*New Requirement

General Contingency Plan: Considering potential impacts to your project plan (for example, COVID-19, political unrest, natural disasters, emerging infectious diseases, etc.), it is important to have formal contingency plans for your proposed project. In up to one page, please describe the possible risks you may encounter that could hinder a successful completion of the project and describe your plans for adjusting this project if needed. Changes could include modified start dates for travel, fieldwork or data collection, alternative data collection strategies, alternative field sites, or alternative methods for recruitment and engagement of participants, as well as any other potential modifications to research and development activities (including IRB/IACUC approvals/changes).

Formal Application

We now only accept applications through our online system. Please click here for links to the application.

A formal application is required for Research Grants. If you are concerned as to whether your research topic is eligible, contact the Foundation at least a month ahead of the application deadline. Relevance of your project to understanding human origins must be explicit throughout your application.

Contact the Foundation office to make sure you have the most up-to-date information. Complete the formal application in English.

Your application must be legible and reproducible. All PDF sections of your application must adhere to the following guidelines. All applicants must use the following formatting instructions.

Applications which do not comply with these instructions will not be accepted for review:

In PDF format, page size appx. 8 1/2″ x 11″
Dark (black) type
At least 12 point typeface (typeface this size or larger)
At least 1/2 inch margins
Do not attempt to squeeze more text onto a page by using smaller typefaces or margins.
Readability is a more important concern than page count for all sections.
Smaller typefaces are allowed in the reference list only.

Data Sharing Statement

The Leakey Foundation, like other funding agencies and journals, believes that transparency, openness and accountability are essential parts of the scientific process, and we expect results/data of projects funded by The Foundation to be published in a timely manner.

The Leakey Foundation also aims to promote the sharing of data in an appropriate manner consistent with the needs of our grantees, but with the recognition that different fields of study require different approaches to data sharing. It is required that each applicant provide a statement (no more than one page) of how they intend to make the data resulting from their Leakey Foundation grant available to others. The data sharing statement must include a more detailed plan than an intention to publish or present at a conference. Please see the detailed application instructions for specific guidelines on the data sharing statement.

Who Should Apply

If the primary work of the project with which you are involved will be performed by a graduate student for whom you are the advisor, the project should be submitted under the graduate student’s name, and will be subject to the funding limitations for PhD Candidates.

New Principle Investigator Policy

Investigators may only submit one proposal as a principle investigator (PI) per granting cycle. This policy does not apply to co-investigators. For example, you may be the PI on one proposal as well as a co-investigator on another


Read and carefully follow the instructions for completing the application. If the application is not completed correctly, it will be returned to the applicant for revision and deferred until the next granting session. It is extremely important that you comply with all requirements. Please consult our Detailed Application instructions for specifics on proposal format and length.


In order for your application to be accepted for review, all of the required materials must be received on or before the stated deadlines of January 10 and July 15.

Special Figures and Tables

Supplemental figures and tables may be submitted. Figures and tables must be legible. Please do not submit scans of maps or graphs that are photocopied or scanned faintly or extremely reduced in size. Color scans are welcome. Please note that as of fall 2016, there is a limit of a total of two pages for all supplemental attachments (appendices, tables, figures, etc.).

Research Costs Appropriate for Support

Suggested major categories include the following: subsistence (food and lodging, per diem), expendable supplies, travel (airfare, local or ground transportation), fees (park or museum), personnel (justify in project description), special analysis costs (C14, SEM, pollen analysis, etc.). The Leakey Foundation does not allow institutional overhead of any kind.

Aid is not offered for salary and/or fringe benefits of applicant or senior project personnel, tuition, non-project personnel, child care, equipment, travel to meetings, institutional overhead, publication costs or institutional support.

Submit a separate budget for project-specific equipment. The purchase of expensive permanent equipment such as computers, cameras, video and recording equipment, vehicles, boats, etc. is not generally funded by the Leakey Foundation. Applicants are advised to request such items from other granting agencies.

Former Leakey Foundation Grantees

The required financial accounting statement and final report on your previous research project must be submitted prior to submitting a new application. This directive is in compliance with IRS regulations as well as with your signed agreement. Proposals will not be accepted from applicants who do not comply with this requirement.

Foreign Applicants

Application forms must be completed in English. Provide English translations of any letters of permission or other attachments in another language.

Peer Review Process

Grant proposals are sent to scientists with pertinent expertise for peer review, evaluated by the Scientific Executive Committee, and must be approved for funding by the Board of Trustees. Applicants are welcome to suggest potential peer reviewers.

Edited reviews will be sent to applicants. These reviews are intended to offer constructive criticism. Final decisions are also based on consideration of the current applicant pool, the relevancy of your proposal to understanding human origins, and the funds available during a given year.

Urgent Funding Requests

Applications submitted between deadlines which request immediate review because of urgent research will be accepted on a very limited basis. A thorough explanation of the urgency of the research must accompany any such request.

How to Contact Us

The Leakey Foundation
1003B O’Reilly Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94129-1359

Telephone: (415) 561-4646
FAX: (415) 561-4647
E-mail: [email protected]