KEEPERS OF THE EARTH FUND Guidelines for Project Concepts


Cultural Survival advocates for Indigenous Peoples' rights and supports Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures and political resilience since 1972. We work toward a future that respects and honors Indigenous Peoples' inherent rights and dynamic cultures, deeply and richly interwoven in lands, languages, spiritual traditions, and artistic expression, rooted in self-determination and self-governance. Our Advocacy Program supports Indigenous grassroots movements to assert their rights outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The Keepers of the Earth Fund (KOEF) is part of  Cultural Survival’s Advocacy Program and seeks to make concrete steps towards the implementation of Indigenous Peoples’ cultural, political, economic, and social rights through small grants and leveraging of technical support and accompaniment. This support empowers grassroots Indigenous communities to establish their rights and retain their traditional values.

Read more: Who are Indigenous Peoples?



The common values that we share as Indigenous Peoples include the concepts of reciprocity, respect, responsibility, and the interdependence of all life. At the project level, Cultural Survival values collective projects that are driven by and benefit the entire community. Projects must be designed and led by Indigenous members of the community that the project serves, and identify and put to use the Indigenous values of that community. We value strategic and innovative approaches to Indigenous values-based development; collaboration with others for the good of the larger community; and strategic capacity building with specific results.  For example, if you are documenting traditional language, song and/or dance, why is this valuable to your community and what will be the use(s) of the documentation? How will the documentation be utilized to promote your community’s continued traditions, practices, and development?



Communities should feel free to propose projects on any topics that are of importance to your community. Of particular interest to CS are projects focused on the following topics and their intersections: Free, Prior, Informed Consent, self-governance, the rights of Indigenous women, economic sovereignty, land rights, environmental and biodiversity protection, Indigenous language and knowledge retention, movement-building, equitable distribution of resources, and Indigenous participation in international, national, regional and local spaces. 

NOTE: for projects related to community radio and Indigenous communication, please see our Community Media Grants Project.



As part of our grant-making process, Cultural Survival deeply values relationship building, personal interaction, and partnership with our grant recipients. For this reason, we aim to personally visit the majority of projects for which we provide funding. To facilitate these visits, we have a preference for proposals in countries that are within geographic proximity to our staff.

Keepers of the Earth Fund is open to receive projects from any country where there is a presence of Indigenous communities; however, we will give slight preference to:

  • The Americas
  • Nepal & Northern India
  • Botswana, Namibia & South Africa



  • Be Indigenous-led

  • Be an Indigenous organization, non-profit grassroots group, traditional Indigenous government, or broad-based cooperative with collective ownership and decision making.

  • Have an annual organizational budget of less than $150,000 USD / year

  • Have a bank account in the name of your organization or have an existing written agreement with a fiscal sponsor. (For Indigenous governments, please contact us to discuss.)

If you have questions about eligibility, please contact us to discuss.

KOEF supports emerging and grassroots Indigenous-led development projects and is often the first funding source for Indigenous organizations and projects. Grant amounts may range between $500 and $5,000 USD. KOEF is intended to be a springboard to enable start-up activities that can lead to sustainability. Upon successful completion of your initial grant and reporting, you may apply for subsequent grants of up to US$10,000. We will consider funding an organization a maximum of three times when there is evidence of progressive growth toward self-sufficiency and if you have secured additional sources of funding other than from Cultural Survival. 


  • Projects that do not originate from or are not led by an Indigenous community

  • Event fundraising, fundraising or endowment campaigns, or deficit funding

  • Fees associated with lawsuit proceedings or representation

  • Electoral campaign activities

  • Disaster relief

  • Vocational education or training

  • Missionary Projects

  • Conference registration fees 

  • General operating expenses 

  • Documentaries and/or film-making 

  • Work being done by an individual

  • Scholarships or school application fees


We are currently accepting applications between May 6th and June 7th 2019. We accept project concepts in written, video, or audio formats in English, Spanish, Diidxazá, K’iche, Pocomam, Sunuwar, Hindi, Nepali, or Russian.  Please limit submissions to 2-pages written or three-minutes of audio or video. The project concept should respond to all the questions listed in the Project Concept Format below. Submit by email at, by the end of the day on June 7th 2019.


Please respond to the following questions:

  1. Who are you, and what is your role in the proposed project?

  2. Which Indigenous Peoples, Tribe, Nation, or culture does the project serve, and where will the project take place?

  3. What do you want to do, how long will it take, and how much does it cost?

  4. Who is currently supporting this work? (describe support from community members, funders, collaborators, or other stakeholders)

From the Project Concepts we receive, the strongest candidates will be invited to submit full project proposals.

Questions? Email us at; or by phone at +1 (617) 441-5400 extension 75.

Para español, encuentre los lineamientos aquí.