Leakey Foundation Fact Sheet

Basic Facts:

The Leakey Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit established in 1968. The organization is based in San Francisco, California.

The mission of The Leakey Foundation is to increase scientific research, education, and public understanding of human origins, evolution, behavior, and survival.

The Leakey Foundation awards around one million dollars per year in grants and scholarships related to human evolution.

The Leakey Foundation was named in honor of Louis and Mary Leakey, the famous scientists whose work established that humans evolved in Africa.

Grant Programs:

  • Leakey Foundation Research Grants – The Leakey Foundation awards grants of up to $25,000 for research related to human origins. The fields of research typically funded include paleoanthropology, primate behavior, and the behavioral ecology of contemporary hunter-gatherers.
  • Franklin Mosher Baldwin Memorial Fellowship – This program was established in 1978 to provide up to $15,000 towards graduate education for students with citizenship in a country with limited opportunities for advanced training and education in research fields related to human origins.
  • Gordon P. Getty Grant for Multidisciplinary Research – This grant was established in 2013 to honor Mr. Getty’s significant contributions to science as chairman of The Leakey Foundation’s board of trustees. This grant is awarded annually to individuals who show extraordinary originality and dedication in their intellectual and professional pursuits while exemplifying a multidisciplinary approach to human origins research. Click here to see the list of past recipients.
  • Francis H. Brown African Scholarship – This fund was established in 2017 in honor of geologist Francis H. Brown, who served on The Leakey Foundation’s Scientific Executive Committee for decades. The fund’s purpose is to expand human knowledge and scientific interest in earth sciences and botany related to human origins by providing financial assistance to East African researchers and students pursuing research in these areas. The fund is further intended to support research that builds on the work of Dr. Francis H. Brown and builds capacity in the earth and botanical sciences in East African institutions.
  • Joan Cogswell Donner Field School Scholarship – This program was established in 2020 to help make field schools accessible to students who live in the countries where the schools are located. Students can receive up to $2,000 towards field school expenses.
  • Primate Research Fund – The Primate Research Fund provides up to $25,000 in emergency funding to long-term primate research field studies experiencing a gap in funding, natural disaster, or other events that threaten the ability to collect data.

Educational Programs:

  • School outreach – The Leakey Foundation’s free school outreach program brings scientists to k-12 classrooms to discuss their research and share what it’s like to be a scientist.
  • Speaker Series on Human Origins – The Leakey Foundation’s Speaker Series on Human Origins is a public lecture series featuring distinguished scientists in fields related to human origins research. These lectures are presented in partnership with museums in Chicago, Houston, New York, and San Francisco. This program has been the cornerstone of our education and outreach efforts since 1968.
  • Origin Stories Podcast – The Leakey Foundation’s Origin Stories podcast explores human evolution one story at a time. The show was launched in 2015, it was a finalist in the 2016 Jackson Hole Wildlife Science Media Awards, and it won the Prix Marulić International Audio Festival in 2018.
  • Lunch Break Science – Lunch Break Science is a web series that features interviews and short talks by Leakey Foundation grantees. This series was launched in 2020 as a new way to provide educational outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recently Published Research

Click to see a report on recently-published Leakey Foundation-supported research.