Foundation Overview


Tara Mittelberg, Northwestern University Scholar, with Carlyn Harris, Arizona State University Scholar, on their circumnavigation

The Circumnavigators Club Foundation was established in 1964 as a philanthropic and educational organization to enable members of the Circumnavigators Club to provide financial support to programs that further the Club’s mission of improving international relations through friendship and understanding. The purpose of the Foundation is solely charitable. It is a recognized US tax-exempt, non-profit organization.

Since 1971, the Foundation has provided grants to enable outstanding college students at participating universities to undertake around-the-world travel-study projects in the summer between their junior and senior years. Now entering its 40th year, the travel-study grant program has been a tremendous success and many grant recipients incorporate their research projects into their senior theses.

To date, 131 students have benefited from the Foundation’s sponsorship to undertake worthwhile research projects on a wide variety of timely topics on issues of global importance. Click here for a complete list of topics researched by Foundation grantees over these many years. A number of the Foundation’s Grantees have entered the diplomatic service while many others are pursing international careers in business, law, medicine, public service, education, technology, and the arts.

The selection process for the travel-study grant program involves interaction between the Foundation and its Chapter Coordinators, and representatives of the universities selected each year by the Foundation for participation in the grant program. A number of the participating universities provide co-funding for the grants. The active involvement of one or more designated university representatives in the program is essential. The university representatives publicize the availability of the grants to the relevant third-year student audience at the beginning of the academic year, and, together with the Chapter Coordinators, manage the initial screening and selection process described below and ensure that grant recipients comply with follow-up requirements at the conclusion of the travel-research projects. Following the submission of their research papers in compliance with the guidelines, grant recipients are designated Foundation Scholars and are invited to join the Circumnavigators Club.

Carlyn Harris, Arizona State University Scholar, with Ryan Sudo, Georgetown University Scholar, on their circumnavigation

Carlyn Harris, Arizona State University Scholar, with Ryan Sudo, Georgetown University Scholar, on their circumnavigation

In order to be considered, students must be in their third-year at one of the participating universities (interested students should check with their grants and fellowship offices to determine whether their schools participate), and submit to the university representative the following materials: a project outline of not more than five double-spaced pages covering the proposed study topicand its relevance to furthering global scholarship or understanding, a general itinerary encompassing an around-the-world trip viable within the amount of the grant and the rationale for the selection of proposed countries to be visited; the plan of study including research and planning activities to be undertaken in advance of the trip and study and research methods proposed to be used in the field during the trip itself; and the relevance of the study project to the student’s field of academic endeavor or interests. Each project outline must be accompanied by the student’s resume and academic transcript. Depending upon their individual internal grant and fellowship policies, participating universities may at their election require additional materials from applicants to supplement those noted above.

The university representatives and, in some cases, the Chapter Coordinators, are then responsible for selecting 3-4 finalists from among the pool of applicants generally no later than November first. Each finalist must prepare a detailed study proposal expanding on the project outline and prepare to defend the proposal in an oral interview by the Foundation’s Selection Committee (without the use of presentation materials, slides, or other visual aids). The study proposal together with the student’s resume and other relevant supporting materials, such as faculty recommendations, transcripts, and the like, must be submitted to the Foundation Selection Committee no later than ten days prior to the date of the selection interview.

Following the selection of the grant recipient, the Chapter Coordinator and the Foundation’s Executive Director will work closely with the grantee to fine-tune project priorities, review the suitability of the proposed itinerary, fine-tune the travel budget, as well as to schedule visits wherever practical with Circumnavigators Club Chapters and members en route. The final itinerary and budget must be approved by the Circumnavigators Club Foundation’s President and Executive Director and comply with U.S. State Department and World Health Organization travel guidelines. The travel-study trips normally commence immediately upon completion of the grant recipients’ junior year.

Currently, grants are in the amount of $9,000 — which must be budgeted by the grantee to cover all expenses of planning and executing a travel study project spanning at least ten weeks and the minimum required number of countries (which varies with participating universities). The grantee also needs to  prepare and submit a rough draft of a research paper to the Foundation no later than 30 days following the completion date of the trip, and a final paper no more than 60 days later. The final research paper must be in scholarly form, complete with detailed interview notes, citations, and the like, and its submission on a timely basis is an absolute obligation of each grantee as a precondition to being awarded a grant. A portion of the grant funds will be withheld until the final paper has been submitted.

For further information: please contact the Executive Director of the Circumnavigators Club Foundation, at

Please note that only applications submitted to the Foundation by university representatives at participating schools will be considered. The Foundation will not consider applications otherwise submitted.

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