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Revised 2011 November 18

The goal of the Public Speaker Program (PSP) is to encourage our Centres to organize and host public talks and presentations, by speakers from outside their local area, about astronomical and related topics. The Society recognizes the value of sharing the knowledge and experience of RASC members and others more widely than may be otherwise possible, by providing funding to help pay for a speaker’s travel and accommodation expenses.

1. Administration

The PSP is administered by the National Secretary and two other Trustees, who shall promote the program at least twice annually. All contact regarding the program shall be through the National Secretary.

2. Funding

The program is funded from the Public Speaker Travel Fund.

3. Application Form

All applications for grants under PSP must be made on the form provided on the Society Web site All applications must be submitted in advance by email to the National Secretary (if by Canada Post, send to the National Office for forwarding).

4. Who May Apply

The application may be made on behalf of a speaker by the Centre proposing the travel (or a group of Centres, if the speaking tour includes more than one Centre).

5. Time of Application

An application for a grant under the PSP must be made and approved before the speaker’s travel occurs.

6. Evaluation and Allocation Procedure

Applications for grants under the PSP will be evaluated, and funds allocated, by the Trustees.

7. Amount of Grants

A) The maximum amount of any grant under PSP shall be 100 percent of the transportation and accommodation cost, reckoned as follows:

(i) Where the speaker lives less than a 300-km drive (include ferry costs, if any) from the place where he or she will speak, the least of (a) $0.30 per driven kilometre, round trip; (b) the return bus fare, if bus travel is available; or (c) the return train fare, if train travel is available.

(ii) in any other case, the lowest air fare available at time of booking, preferably booked at least 45 days before the date of travel, together with $0.30 per driven km between the speaker’s place of residence and the airport of departure and return, if such distance is greater than 50 km one way.

(iii) No amount will be approved for a grant under the PSP for food, or expenses other than the transportation and accommodation costs. All such other expenses must be borne by the applicable Centre(s), the speaker, or both.

B) The maximum amount to which any speaker shall be entitled during any financial year shall be $2000.00.

8. Requirements for Receipts

No funds will be disbursed to any speaker or sponsoring Centre whose application has been approved until receipts evidencing the actual travel expenditures have been received at the Society Office. For automobile expenses, submit an itemization of kilometres driven – no receipt required, but provide receipts for ferry costs.

9. Where Actual Costs Exceed Estimate

It is expected that a host Centre will absorb any cost over-runs.

10. Eligible Expenses

Travel and accommodation expenses detailed on the current RASC NAC Travel Policy are eligible. Eligible expenses will be reimbursed at a rate of 100 percent. Where reasonably possible, the speaker will be billeted by the Centre. The host Centre(s) is/are responsible for local transportation.
Reimbursements for travel expenses are ordinarily made directly to the speaker, but can be made directly to one of the sponsoring Centres. Claims are to be made as required by the RASC NAC Travel Policy.

11. Promotion of the Program

The National Secretary shall announce rounds of funding for the program at least twice annually (subject to available funding).

12. Program Requirements

The application may be made on behalf of the proposed speaker by a sponsoring Centre proposing to organize, host, and promote the public talk (or a group of Centres, if a speaking tour includes more than one Centre). The application and approval for funding must take place before the speaker’s travel occurs.

The sponsoring Centre(s) must agree to host the talk at a suitable venue and make the talk open to the public at no charge. The Centre must also agree to promote the event locally. The public talk may be a stand-alone event, in conjunction with a Centre meeting, or part of a larger event (e.g. an annual star party).

The RASC must be acknowledged as a sponsor, both at the talk and in any appropriate promotion (posters, Web site, etc.).
The sponsoring Centre will pay all local costs, other than travel and accommodation expenses, and is also encouraged to cover any out-of-pocket costs (e.g. meals) of the speaker not covered by this program.

Where possible, the talk should be recorded (audio/video) and made available afterwards via the Web for others to enjoy.

Within 30 days after the public talk is completed, the sponsoring Centre must provide a brief report to the National Secretary, including the date of the talk, the venue, the speaker name, talk title and abstract, how it was promoted to the public, the attendance, and any other information the Centre deems notable.

13. How to Apply

The sponsoring Centre or Centres must apply to the National Secretary no later than the deadline provided in the announcement of the current round of funding.
The application must include:

  • The sponsoring Centre contact
  • The proposed speaker and their home location
  • The talk title and abstract, if available
  • The planned date of the talk
  • The city and venue for the talk
  • The intended audience for the talk (mostly RASC members, mostly general public, young people, etc.)
  • How attendance of the talk by non-Centre members will be promoted
  • The expected attendance
  • A budget estimate for the travel and accommodation expenses being requested
  • An estimate of local costs, if any, being provided by the Centre
  • Any other information the Centre believes will support the application

14. Application Evaluation by the Trustees

The evaluation of the applications will be according to the following guidelines:

  • As soon as is practicable after the announced submission deadline, the Trustees shall evaluate the proposals.
  • All applications in each announced round of funding will be considered and evaluated together.
  • Applications will be evaluated and granted on the following basis:
  • Available funding
  • The completeness of the proposal
  • The proposal’s likelihood to best meet the Society’s charitable goals

Favourable consideration shall be given to applications from Centres if:

  • the talk is to take place in a location astronomically underserved
  • the target audience for the talk is to an underserved group (inner city youth, rural area, aboriginal group, etc.), or
  • the Centre has not received a grant under the program in the previous three years.

A Trustee shall recuse himself/herself from evaluating a proposal from his or her home Centre.
After the Trustees have rendered their decision, the National Secretary shall inform every applicant of the disposition of the application. For those whose application was not funded, an explanation shall be provided.