Photo by: Purwo Kuncoro

Your support made a difference in 2020

From funding research that helps us understand what it means to be human, to helping young scientists achieve their dreams of pursuing a graduate degree, to protecting endangered primates that stand at the brink of extinction, your support made a world of difference this year.

The Leakey Foundation’s mission to increase scientific research, education, and public understanding of human origins, evolution, behavior, and survival is more important than ever.

We are grateful for our supporters who have helped move science forward in 2020.

Here are a few notable successes from this year that wouldn’t be possible without your support.

2020 Leakey Foundation grantee Samantha Stead in a forest fragment near Lake Nabugabo, Uganda, where she was collecting observational data and fecal samples from Rwenzori Angolan colobus monkeys.

Research Funding

Our supporters made it possible to fund 62 research grants totaling over $1 million to scientists conducting research in 30 countries. Although some of our grantees have had to delay their projects, they can still count on our funding. We are grateful to have been able to continue funding when other organizations have put their granting programs on hold.

2020 Leakey Foundation Baldwin Fellow Penina Emanuel Kadalida in front of a statue of Louis Leakey at the National Museums of Kenya 2019.

Baldwin Fellowships

Leakey Foundation supporters helped 10 students from Algeria, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Tanzania, and Turkey achieve their dreams of attending graduate school. Our prestigious Baldwin Fellowship program, which was established in 1978, has supported hundreds of international students who have gone on to become leaders in their fields.

Chimpanzees at the Greater Mahale Ecosystem Research and Conservation project in Tanzania photographed performing a ‘grooming handclasp.’ This is a behavior where two chimpanzees clasp onto each other’s arms, raise their arms in the air, and groom each other with their free arm.

Primate Research Fund Emergency Bridge Grants

Thanks to our supporters, we were able to provide emergency funding to keep long term primate research sites going in Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mexico, Tanzania and Uganda. This funding provided vital support to local workers and their communities during the pandemic. Primatologist John Mitani wrote, “By ensuring that continuous observations will be maintained by the dedicated directors and field researchers associated with these projects, funds provided by the Primate Research Fund promise that significant findings regarding these long-lived animals will continue to emerge.”

Variations in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide affect carbon fixation during photosynthesis and can be measured on a preserved fossil leaf like this one from Ethiopia. (Credit SMU)

Francis H. Brown African Scholarship Fund

The purpose of the Francis H. Brown African Scholarship Fund 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 of study. 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. This year we awarded $14,000 to support Dr. Tekie Tesfamichael of Addis Ababa University for his research on early Miocene fossil leaves from the Mush Valley of Ethiopia. Dr. Tesfamichael’s work has confirmed the link between carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and climate change.

This year, Leakey Foundation grantees shared their research on our new Lunch Break Science web series. Top row: Zarin Machanda, Lauren Schroeder, Chalachew Seyoum. Middle row: Jenny Tung, Hailay Reda, Rachna Reddy. Bottom row: Daniel Lieberman, Ainash Childebeyeva, Anne Stone.

Science Outreach and Education

In response to the pandemic, we needed to shift our educational programming online, and with your support we launched a new web series called Lunch Break Science. We hosted 17 programs, connecting with over 20,000 people around the world. These programs reached 10 times as many people as our in-person programs reached last year.

Support from our donors enabled our award-winning Origin Stories podcast to bring science and storytelling to over 850,000 listeners in 155 countries. In addition, generous Leakey Foundation supporters provided funding to create over 40 lesson plans to accompany our podcast. These high-quality educational resources will be made available to teachers for free.

Thank you so much for supporting science this year. No other nonprofit in the world invests in human origins research and outreach like we do. We can’t do it without you.

We look forward to a bright new year of science and discovery in 2021!

Click here to make a year-end donation to The Leakey Foundation. All donations will be matched.




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