Over the course of a scientific career, a large fraction of the data collected by scientific investigators turns into data at risk of becoming inaccessible to future science. Although a part of the investigators’ data is made available in manuscripts and databases, other data may remain unpublished, non-digital, on degrading or near obsolete digital media, or inadequately documented for reuse. In 2013, Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA) provided data rescue mini-awards to three Earth science investigators. IEDA’s user communities in geochemistry, petrology, geochronology, and marine geophysics collect long-tail data, defined as data produced by individuals and small teams for specific projects, tending to be of small volume and initially for use only by these teams, thus being less likely to be easily transferred or reused. Long-tail data are at greater risk of omission from the scientific record. The awarded projects topics were (1) Geochemical and Geochronological data on volcanic rocks from the Fiji, Izu-Bonin-Mariana arc, and Endeavor segments of the global mid-ocean ridge, (2) High-Resolution, Near-bottom Magnetic Field Data, and (3) Geochemistry of Lunar Glasses. IEDA worked closely with the awardees to create a plan for the data rescue, resulting in the registration of hundreds of samples and the entry of dozens of data and documentation files into IEDA data systems. The data were made openly accessible and citable by assigning persistent identifiers for samples and files. The mini-award program proved that a relatively small incentive combined with data facility guidance can motivate investigators to accomplish significant data rescue.