National Geographic Education Foundation

Creating a U.S. State Endowment

The National Geographic Society will match, dollar for dollar (up to U.S. $500,000), all local contributions in a state for the express purpose of establishing a total endowment of one million dollars for geography education. The earnings of each new state endowment may be used only to support geography education in that state. The National Geographic Society Education Foundation invests the funds and covers all administrative costs, ensuring that the maximum amount is available for geography education.

All income from an endowment is earmarked for support of educational programs in the state for which it was created. To ensure local accountability, grants are recommended by a local advisory committee for approval by the Board of Trustees of the National Geographic Society Education Foundation. Once established, an endowment provides an ongoing and growing revenue source for geography education.

Income from a state fund benefits a broad array of resources and programs, including professional development institutes for teachers and administrators, curriculum materials, exhibitions, and resource collections. To the extent possible, a fund will work through the state’s geographic alliance.

To date, individual "Geography Education Funds," as they are called, have been created in Colorado, D.C., Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and in Canada.

Key Features

State geography funds are distinguished by a number of features:
  • New Funds for Education: The value of local contributions will be matched, dollar for dollar, by the National Geographic Society, thereby doubling the philanthropic capital available for geography education in each state.
  • Permanent Benefits: A state fund will be established in perpetuity so that future generations will benefit from today’s investment.
  • Local Accountability: State geographic alliances, which will carry out the programmatic activities, are housed in state universities, are governed by local teachers and administrators, and work with local schools.
  • Growth: The corpus of the fund will be invested and any income beyond the annual payout rate will be returned to the fund for use in subsequent years.
  • Professional Portfolio Management: The National Geographic Society’s investment record is sound and highly competitive—the average annual rate of return since the foundation’s inception is 14.2 percent.
  • No Fees: The Society will pay all administrative costs of operating a state fund.

Why a State Endowment?

Building a statewide endowment is a powerful way to establish a permanent, self-sustaining source of support for teacher training and educational improvement. A state fund will support programs that encourage and improve the teaching of geography in that state and increase and disseminate geographic knowledge more broadly throughout the state.

For More Information

For additional information about the National Geographic Society Education Foundation and the challenge grant to help create a geography education fund in your state, please contact Lanny Proffer, National Geographic Society Education Foundation, at +1 202 828 6689.