“I loved how it gave me the opportunity to meet so many incredibly cool people - every person I met through this course is absolutely amazing.”
Note: These opportunities are earned and not guaranteed.
“My research during the fellowship gave me a better overview of the biosecurity landscape, which helped me get accepted as one of the few non-university students at the Stanford Existential Risks Initiative's Biosecurity Seminar.”
“This fellowship has been an amazing opportunity not only to learn more about some of the most pressing issues, but also to work on a project which could have a real impact in the world."
Jason started the fellowship with a commitment to making a big difference, but without a clear path. His research helped him notice the lack of global governance of artificial intelligence (AI), so his project proposed an International AI Agency. After getting expert feedback and revising his approach, he flew to Geneva to meet key stakeholders and co-authored a report for the United Nations.
AI could help solve humanity's greatest challenges, from healthcare to climate change. However, without proper safeguards and oversight, advanced AI could also pose a large risk to our survival. To maximise the benefits of AI while avoiding potential downsides, we must develop AI safely and responsibly; our shared future depends on it.
Our challenges know no borders; most policy stays constrained within them. Technology outpaces policy; governance struggles with myopia. While progress accelerates, policy plays catch up. But if we can spread concern for the global rather than parochial good, improve incentives to act in our long term interests, and facilitate cooperation on key issues, we can rise to our collective challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic cost the lives of more than 15 million people.2
It won’t be the last pandemic, and it may not be the worst to come. There’s always some risk of a new naturally occurring disease, but modern technology like CRISPR makes it easier than ever to make pathogens more infectious or deadly than those we’ve faced before. Without safeguards, this could even happen by accident!
Humanity is 200,000 years old; earth will remain habitable for 100s of millions more. If we mitigate existential risks, the future could hold millions of generations, an end to disease & poverty, and flourishing beyond imagination.
Since splitting the atom, humanity has gained the means to destroy our own ecosystem. We now face more risks of a similar calibre: climate change, biological threats, and advanced AI. Our choices will determine whether human history begins or ends.
Every year, billions of dollars and millions of hours are spent on trying to make the world a better place. But some ways are much more effective than others. How can we find out which ones?
This is the central question that global priorities research (GPR) tries to answer. GPR is an academic discipline that applies rigorous methods and evidence to help us identify the most pressing problems, the most effective solutions, and the most promising opportunities for doing good.
Many people want to help others, but they often don’t know how they can best do so. Effective altruism is a growing social movement dedicated to using evidence and reason to figure out how to benefit others as much as possible.
Promoting effective altruism means growing the community of people who are acting on these ideas to have more impact. This often looks like working on some of our high-impact focus areas, such as biosecurity and the threats of advanced artificial intelligence. By helping more people do good effectively, you can multiply how much you would have achieved working directly on important problems.
What problems are missing from this list?
This is not just a hypothetical question. Fellows receive expert guidance to explore and work on whichever problems they think are the most pressing (with the exception of projects we think are likely to be harmful).
Indeed, many of our prize-winning fellows worked on projects not on this list. Like Diana, Grace, and Lou’s project engineering GM mushrooms to serve as a resilient food source during low light disasters.
We evaluate projects on the basis of:
How are projects working towards solving an important problem over the course of the fellowship?
What potential do the projects have for solving a crucial global issue?
Which presentations present the most compelling idea and robust evidence?
Answer big picture questions about what matters most to you. Use those answers to figure out what kind of problem means the most to you.
Investigate specific problems quantitatively. Figure out which ones are most worth tackling.
Resolve uncertainties about your long-term plans, get clarity into your strengths and weaknesses, and overcome what’s holding you back.
Now you can generate ideas that are solving a problem you deeply care about and is a good fit for you.
Sprint to see how far you can get to validate your idea. Develop a proof of concept, conduct a literature review, or produce a plan to address the biggest risks and uncertainties.
Use the final sprint week to put the finishing touches on. At the end of the week, you’ll present your project to the rest of the fellowship at Demo Day.
Tell us about yourself, and test yourself with our problem-solving quiz. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so the earlier you apply the earlier you find out if you’re accepted to the next stage.
We’ll get to know you better by discussing your thoughts on the world’s most pressing problems, what you already know about your career plans, and potential project ideas (though you don’t need to prepare anything). We’ll also answer any questions you have.
Applicants are eligible if they:
• Are teenagers, 14-20
• Haven't started university
• Are located anywhere in the world
We empower some of this generation’s sharpest thinkers to use their talents to address vexing social challenges.
We look for applicants who demonstrate:
• World-changing ambitions: Producing a meaningful improvement in humanity’s plight is not trivial – it will likely take decades of hard work. We look for those with the resolve to make a difference over the long term.
• Critical thinking: We look for applicants who are able to think deeply and analytically about complex problems. You can demonstrate this with the quiz and critical thinking tasks in our application.
• Curiosity: How could you do the most good? The answer to this question is non-obvious and constantly changing. We look for the drive to determine how the world works, and what you can do to change it.
Award winners will receive a $500 scholarship at the end of successfully completing the fellowship. The scholarship is not contingent on attending university, and the scholarship is awarded in addition to any prizes won.
Recipients must use the scholarship for the purposes of educational and personal development. This means, for example, purchasing textbooks, courses, technology, tuition, tutoring, or supplementing unpaid internships.
Prizes are awarded based on which projects have made the most progress, show the most promise for impact, and were best presented in their Demo Day presentations. These prizes will be awarded in addition to the scholarship all fellows receive.
There are three prizes on offer:
• First place will receive a $15,000 grant award.
• Second place, which will be awarded twice, will receive a $5,000 grant award.
• Third place, which will be awarded 5 times, will receive a $1,000 grant award.
See our Prize Terms & Conditions
Since our founding in 2022, we’ve received over $1 million in donations.
The largest funder of our current work is Open Philanthropy, a major US-based foundation. They support our work because they expect us to improve the world by helping you solve the world’s most pressing problems. Open Philanthropy’s main funders are Cari Tuna and Dustin Moskovitz, a co-founder of Facebook and Asana.
2022 Future Fund Grant
In early 2022, Non-Trivial received a $1 million grant from the Future Fund, which was primarily supported by FTX employees. In November 2022, FTX filed for bankruptcy. In light of this situation, Non-Trivial ceased spending any Future Fund money until further notice.
No, it costs you nothing to apply – it's 100% free. And our program is 100% free.
Our donors support the fellowship because they expect us to improve the world by helping you solve the world’s most pressing problems.