Student Media Grant Program (SMGP)


Student Media Grant Program (2020)  – Application period opens in Sept 1, 2019 – Deadline: Oct 31, 2019

Offered by The Center on Conflict and Development at Texas A&M University

#StudentMediaGrant   @ConDevCenter

Photos from previous SMGP winners.  About the Grant ConDev’s Student Media Grants award up to $5,000 to current students interested in capturing conflict-related issues facing fragile and conflict-affected areas of Latin America through stunning photography and/or videography. This photojournalism grant is funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation Chair on Conflict and Development.

  • Application deadline: October 31, 2019
  • Students (undergraduate and graduate) from around the world are encouraged to apply, but projects must be conducted in Latin America.
  • The 2020 application period begins Sept 1, 2019
  • Students should choose an international development area that reflects issues of food insecurity, health, education, land tenure, poverty, migration, school violence, or other conflict-related issues facing people in fragile and conflict-affected nations in Latin America.
  • Read more about the grant and see examples of previous grant projects here: Student Media Grant Program

Who’s Eligible?

The program is OPEN TO UNIVERSITY STUDENTS WORLDWIDE (undergraduate, graduate or PhD) wishing to conduct photojournalism projects in Latin America. Proposals for other areas of the world will not be considered.

Application Instructions:

Students should submit proposals that will describe their expected travel, research and photographic subjects. They should choose an international development area that reflects issues of food insecurity, health, education, land tenure, poverty, or other issues facing people in fragile and conflict-affected nations in Latin America. During their experience, students will be required to accomplish the following:

  • Show three-month engagement (minimum) with international development issues through extension activities, internships, student research, etc.
  • Write a series of blog postings for the ConDev Blog during their experience and a final report or blog
  • Document their chosen subjects through photo and/or video journalism that draws attention to conflict and development issues
  • Publish or exhibit the results of their work in a form of refereed media

Students are encouraged to use the book and associated photographic art from Fragile: the Human Condition (by Howard G. Buffett) as an example of both engagement and documenting issues at the nexus of conflict and development. Interested students should submit a proposal during the open application period (Sept 1-Oct 31, 2019), that outlines their intended use of grant funds, with details about locations to be visited, issues to be studied, how the funds will be used, and any special needs. Proposals should not exceed four (4) 8.5×11 pages typed in 12 point Times New Roman font. 1″ margins; please submit as a Microsoft Word document Please review the Proposal Format listed at the bottom of this webpage. Proposals should be submitted to with “SMGP 2020: [Name of Student]” as the subject line and up to two proposals can be submitted per student. An award is not expected to exceed $5,000 per awardee and will be made at the discretion of the Chair.

Application Timeline

  • September 1, 2019:  APPLICATION OPENS! You can start e-mailing your finished proposals to
  • October 31, 2019 by 11:59pm CST:  Application deadline
  • November-December 2019:  Review Period – please be patient as we review your incredible proposals!
  • January 31, 2020:  Notification Period (approximate)
  • Funding disbursement depends on travel timeline. Most funds will be disbursed 1-2 months prior to traveling.
  • February-December 2020: Grant winners travel and implement their photojournalism projects and submit their work to ConDev

Proposal Format

  • No more than four (8.5”×11”) pages (not including cover page)
  • 12 point, Times New Roman font
  • 1″ margins; please submit as a Microsoft Word document

Students should submit proposals that describe their anticipated travel, subjects, and plans for photostory production, refinement and promotion as specifically as possible. Proposals must include the following components:

  1. Cover Sheet
  2. Thematic Focus  (1/2 page)
  3. Statement of Motivation (1/2 page)
  4. Media Experience (1/2 page)
  5. Timeline (1/2 page)
  6. Narrative of Planned Activities (1 page)
  7. Plan for Submission of Work and Plan for Promotion (1/2 page)
  8. Budget (1/2 page)

More details:

  • Cover Sheet should include:
    • Title of Proposal
    • Applicant Name
    • Applicant Email (academic email)
    • Major (Example: BS International Studies)
    • University Name
    • Expected Graduation Date
    • References: The names and contact information (telephone numbers and emails) of two faculty or staff at your university who can serve as references. If you recently started at a new university, you can include 1 from your new university (someone who can verify your enrollment) and 1-2 references from your previous institution or professional experience. *By submitting a proposal, applicants agree that ConDev has permission to contact these individuals prior to awarding a grant to the applicant.
  • Thematic Focus  (½ page)
    • What theme/issue do you plan to photograph?
    • What do you hope to achieve by highlighting this specific subject or issue?
  • Statement of Motivation (½ page)
    • Why this issue/country? How will this grant further your personal/professional aspirations?
  • Media Experience  (½ page)
    • Is this your first time using a camera, or do you have experience taking great photographs? Feel free to include links to past work, your website, or include a few samples as attachments when you submit your proposal.
    • Applicants are responsible for editing and presenting their photos with all associated captions and/or descriptions. Do you have any experience editing photos and videos?
    • If you lack photography experience, how do you plan to improve your skills before departing on your photo exhibition, should you be awarded a grant?
  • Timeline  (½ page)
    • The use of a table is required for timelines.
    • Provide clear travel dates and be very specific about locations. Make sure to seek approval from your university to travel to your selected location.
    • Include milestones for delivering preliminary photos and at least three blogs to ConDev’s Media Grant Manager during your expedition. Monthly blogs with pictures are highly encouraged.
  • Narrative of Planned Activities (1 page)
    • This section, outlined in paragraph form, will explain your planned activities as proposed in your timeline.
    • How long do you plan to be in-country? Applicants are responsible for obtaining approval to travel and to conduct research (if applicable) from their universities.
    • How do you plan to capture photos, and with whom do you plan to meet? Do you have local partners identified?
    • Include plans for delivering preliminary photos and blogs during your expedition. We encourage periodic communications with the SMGP Manager.
    • Where will you travel to? Do you plan to visit more than one country?
  • Plan for Work Submission and Promotion (1/2 page)
    • List specific deliverables, including method of delivery. Include specific deadlines for delivering blogs with a few pictures during your travel and for delivering your final product and promoting your work after your return. Students are encouraged to share their work on ConDev’s social media networks.
    • A “Plan for Promotion” is required. How do you plan to present and promote your finished, edited and polished product after your return? Will you target specific media channels/magazines/news outlets? Will you hold a photo or video exhibit at your university, a gallery or theater?
  • Budget (1/2 page)
    • Applicants are encouraged to be as detailed and accurate as possible regarding estimated expenses.
    • Please ensure that your budget does not surpass the USD $5000 limit and that the majority of your budget is spent in field actvities.
    • Will you need to pay for visas, flights, vaccinations, security, etc.? If so, include it in your budget.
    • All budget totals should be in U.S. dollars (USD).
    • Please ensure that your budgets are realistic. ConDev will not disburse additional funds for any reason. Applicants are responsible for arranging all details of their travel and stay completely independently.

Submission Instructions

Proposals should be submitted as a Microsoft Word Document to with “Student Media Grant: [Name of Student]” as the subject line, with any samples attached. Only one proposal can be submitted per student.

Grading – An internal review by a panel of ConDev team members will conduct the initial review and select the top 6 proposals. An external review by experts from different Texas A&M University Departments and from the Conflict and Development Foundation, and the Howard G Buffet Foundation will conduct the Final Review to select the winners.


This boy helps his families by carrying kilograms of grains to market

Menychle Abebe documented the struggles of obtaining an education in the poverty-stricken Amhara region of Ethiopia during Summer 2016


  • What inspired ConDev to start this grant? Who manages it?
  • What is the purpose of this grant?
    • To enable and encourage student photographers (especially those interested in photojournalism and international conflict) to document and highlight issues related to conflict and development through stunning visual media in the country where these events are taking place.
  • Are teams allowed to submit a joint proposal?
    • A maximum team size of two people is eligible to submit a joint proposal. The funding limit will be the same ($5,000 maximum). One applicant must be listed at the primary contact with ConDev.
  • How much money are we talking about, anyway?
    • Awards will not exceed $5,000 per awardee. We award from 3-5 grants per year.
  • Where can I go? Are there any travel restrictions?
    • Traveling to a country where there is a U.S. Department of State travel warning in place will not be approved. If you live in a country under a State Department travel warning, and wish to conduct your work in that country, please inform us in your proposal.
    • Grantees are not required to travel as part of the grant.  If you wish to photograph a conflict-related issue in your home country, you are welcome to do so.
  • I don’t attend school in the United States. Can I still apply?
    • Yes; the grant is open to students (undergraduate, graduate, Master’s, PhD) worldwide, but projects need to be conducted in Latin America.
  • Do I have to be a photography/journalism/international studies major to apply?
    • No. Students from all majors and areas of study are encouraged to apply. Your major does not have to be related to photography, journalism or international studies, though applicants with previous photography experience are especially encouraged to apply.
  • When can I travel using this money?
    • The photo expeditions for this round of the Student Media Grant should take place sometime between March and December 2020
  • Are graduating students allowed to submit an application?
    • Yes, students graduating in 2020 are eligible to apply.
  • Are incoming students allowed to submit an application?
    • No, incoming students starting their programs in 2021 are not yet eligible for the Student Media Grant, but we look forward to reviewing your proposal next year!
  • What does a successful application look like?
    • A successful application will have thorough responses and adequately answer all the prompts explained above.
  • Is the cover sheet included in the page limit?
    • No
  • What happens after I’m accepted?
    • If you are selected to receive a Student Media Grant, ConDev will notify you and our SMGP Manager will provide more details. You’ll be required to provide some more information, like: a letter signed by your supervising professor, evidence of good health and medical insurance that is valid in the area to which you expect to travel, etc. You’ll also have to register your emergency contact information with the Study Abroad Office at your university.
  • Do applications have to be submitted in English?
    • Yes. We understand that not everyone speaks English as a first language, but please do your best. Thanks!
  • “I applied last year and did not get funded. Can I reapply?”
    • Yes, you can reapply. Update your proposal based on previous feedback and proposal guidelines to better your chances of receiving an award.
  • I already have a $500 scholarship to study abroad. Can I combine that with this grant if I win?
    • Past winners have often combined awards and used additional grant money to supplement their projects.
  • How detailed should my Narrative of Planned Activities be?
    • Please try to be as detailed as possible. Example: “I plan to produce at least 100 high-quality photographs. I will share 10 photos WITH CAPTIONS (including subject, date and location) with the Grant Manager via email once a week while overseas and will deliver the rest via DropBox by [date]. I plan to access internet while traveling using an internet cafe. I am considering using a technique called [technique], which is particularly appropriate for this subject matter because [reason]. I will edit my photos using [computer software]. I will deliver my finished, edited and polished products with all perfectly completed captions to the Grant Manger via [email/DropBox]. After returning on [date], I will submit my finished photostory to these magazines for consideration. I will also provide XXXX copies of my final product to XXXX number of schools in the country I visited, which will require me to purchase XXXX. And so on.”
  • How many grants will be awarded each year?
    • The number of grants awarded is based on the number of applicants and the amount of funding available. In the past, we have awarded approximately 2-3 grants per round.
  • How will I share my photos with ConDev?
    • During their experience, grantees are required to share blogs and their photos with ConDev HQ so ConDev can begin promoting their work; so if you think this will require you to purchase DropBox space or internet in your country of travel, please account for that in your budget. After returning from their photo expedition, the grantees will deliver their final products to ConDev HQ in accordance with the timeline stated in their proposal.

All work produced by Fellows will be used by the Center on Conflict and Development and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation to advance advocacy and public awareness of critical issues facing international development. Information about the Student Media Grant winners and their associated projects will be presented annually to the Board of Advisors of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation Chair on Conflict & Development and the H. G. Buffett Foundation. There will be unrestricted access and use of published materials by these entities to advance mutual goals. Awardees will sign a release granting these permissions. 

Still Have Questions? 

Don’t hesitate to contact the Student Media Grant Manager, Johanna Roman at . We look forward to reviewing your application! @ConDevCenter #StudentMediaGrant