Caving Expedition Diversity Scholarship

The San Francisco Bay Chapter (SFBC) of the National Speleological Society (NSS) will annually award one or more deserving cavers with a scholarship to help cover expedition fees, gear, and/or travel to participate in a qualifying expedition.

Application Form


Through this scholarship, SFBC seeks to promote diversity among cavers participating in cave expeditions and empower cavers from underrepresented groups to go on expeditions.

The Scholarship Award

  • Awardee can request up to $500 for expedition fees, gear purchases, and/or travel.

Candidate and Expedition Criteria

  • Candidate Eligibility Criteria:
    • Currently an active caver that demonstrates positive participation and commitment to caving and the caving community.
    • Have been accepted to participate in a qualifying expedition.
    • Unlikely or unable to participate in expedition for financial reasons.
      • Candidate must present a budget of anticipated expenses for which they need assistance: expedition fees, gear purchases, and/or travel.
    • Preference will be given to SFBC and NSS members who have not previously joined an expedition.
    • Preference will be given to candidates reflecting diverse genders and ethnicities that are underrepresented in caving expeditions.
    • Preference will be given to candidates who can demonstrate that they will use this experience to further promote diversity in caving expeditions.
    • This scholarship is open to all grottos and non-NSS members.
  • Speleology Expedition Criteria:
    • A speleological expedition is a large-scale excursion with stated specific goals of collecting data in one or more sub-speleological study and publishing the results.
    • Sub-studies include exploration, mapping, cartography, geology, biology, archaeology, paleontology, paleoclimatology, and photo documentation.
    • The expedition must be an official project or have a survey organization affiliation that is open to all competent cavers.

Scholarship Expectations

  • Expectations for scholarship awardee:
    • Provide documentation of expenses
    • Provide updates as able during expedition
    • Document experiences during expedition
    • Write an article for the SFBC newsletter
    • Give presentation to SFBC on expedition experience (online presentation acceptable if travel not possible)
    • Use experience to encourage more diversity in caving expeditions
  • Expectations of SFBC to scholarship awardee:
    • Provide awardee with one year SFBC membership
    • Publicize awardees experience to further promote diversity
    • Publish awardee’s article in the SFBC newsletter and other publications
    • Provide a forum for awardee’s presentation and post on website if possible

Application Requirements and Timeline

  • Application Requirements
    • Personal statement evidencing the eligibility criteria (<500 words) on the following question:
      • How will you use your expedition experience to further promote diversity?
    • Two personal references with contact information; references will be asked the following questions:
      • How has this caver demonstrated positive participation and commitment to caving and the caving community?
      • Do you think this caver will be successful in promoting diversity in caving expeditions?
    • Documentation from expedition leader confirming your participation, fee schedule, and disclosing any kind of personal relationship
      • This can be as simple as an email printout.
  • Applications are accepted on a rolling basis; encouraged to apply for scholarship 3 months prior to expedition fee deadline
    • If awarded, you will be notified and fees will be disbursed by expedition fee deadline.
    • SFBC will award one scholarship per year, more pending funds available.
  • Submit application materials to the online application form.
  • Questions may be sent to


  • At the SFBC Executive Committee meeting following receipt of application(s), voting members (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Newsletter Editor) will select a candidate to receive the scholarship based on the aforementioned criteria.
  • All written communication in regards to the scholarship application will be automatically forwarded from the email account to the executive committee.
  • The Treasurer will process applications, communicate with and notify applicants, announce scholarship recipients, collect receipts and disburse funds, maintain visibility for the scholarship and recipients, and hold the recipient accountable for expectations and deliverables.
  • The division of responsibilities and all aspects of the scholarship will be reevaluated in two years with the plan to create a standalone scholarship committee.

Method of Voting

Preparation: Each voting member shall independently review and evaluate candidate(s). The treasurer will contact the candidate’s reference to fact check their application materials.

Discussion: Each voting member must disclose any relevant personal relationship with the candidate(s). The treasurer will report any findings from fact checking. The group will discuss the merits of each caver, including re-reviewing their application materials.

Vote:A spoken vote is taken in which each voting member mustopt ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to award the scholarship to a candidate. A majority vote is needed to approve a scholarship. If an agreement cannot be reached, the candidate will not be funded. If there is more than one qualified candidate, it is at the discretion of the executive committee to make a decision.


  • SFBC pledges to award one scholarship up to $500 per year to a qualified candidate for two year until this scholarship program is reevaluated.
  • SFBC is accepting donations towards this scholarship, donations are tax exempt and nonrefundable.
    • With donations, SFBC hopes to award more than one scholarship per year.