Start solving
the world's most pressing problems

An 8-week online fellowship for young people to start an impactful research, policy, or entrepreneurial project.

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ApplIcations close
April 28, 2024
FINANCIALLY SUPPORTED BY
Open Philanthropy
$500 scholarship
zero fees
Ages 14-20, worldwide
Program
JUL 8-AUG 30, 2024
Flexible Timing
$30,000 in Funding

Non-Trivial alumni now attend

Launch Your Own Impactful Project

Choose your cause. Get expert guidance. Find a solution and make it happen.

Meet lifelong friends and ambitious collaborators.

“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.”

Photo of Meri
Meri, 16 (UK), future Maths and Philosophy student

Previous fellows’ projects have helped them secure  impactful internships and funding.

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.”

Photo of Riya
Riya, 18 (UAE), future Medical student

Learn advanced concepts from academic philosophy, economics, mathematics, and more.

“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."

Photo of Grace
Grace, 17 (UK), future Engineering student
Prize-winning Projects

At Age 17, Jason Co-authored A UN Report

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.

Jason, 17 (SG), future Politics and Economics student

Fellows are making a real impact on the world and building the skills to do it again in the future.

Watch Presentations
Photo of Jason in the UN

Solve Real Global Issues

Tackle some of humanity’s defining challenges.
Select from our Focus Areas or choose your own cause to champion.

Nearly 50% of artificial intelligence (AI) researchers put the odds of catastrophic harm from advanced AI at greater than 1 in 10.1

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.

1: Stein-Perlman et al., (2022) 2022 Expert Survey on Progress in AI, AI Impacts

Institutional incentives frequently misalign with humanity's long term interests.

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.

Advancements in synthetic biology could help bad actors develop a virus that is as infectious as COVID-19 and as lethal as Smallpox.

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!

2: Edouard et al. (2021) Excess mortality during the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), Our World in Data

Expert forecasters predict a 38% chance of a global catastrophe this century.3

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.

How can we use our limited resources to make the biggest positive impact on the world?

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.

Help more people have a bigger impact on the world.

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.

Many of the world’s most pressing problems aren’t widely known or worked on.

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.

$30K

in Funding for the Most Impactful Projects

First prize is $15,000; second prize (2x) is $5,000; third prize (5x) is $1,000.

We evaluate projects on the basis of:

Most progress

How are projects working towards solving an important problem over the course of the fellowship?

Most promise

What potential do the projects have for solving a crucial global issue?

Best presented

Which presentations present the most compelling idea and robust evidence?

EXPERT GUIDANCE

Run By Experienced
Non-Profit Leaders

Non-Trivial Fellows are guided by Peter McIntyre and Stefan Torges, two experienced non-profit leaders dedicated to making a positive impact on the world.

Peter, our CEO, has co-founded two non-profits that have collectively raised over $10 million, advised hundreds of top graduates on finding meaningful careers at 80,000 Hours, and run operations at a 25-person startup.

Stefan, our Head of Fellowship, is a former German debating champion, co-led an organization awarding multi-million-dollar grants to AI risk research, and has worked as a Superforecaster.

About Us
Curriculum

Apply in Under an Hour

Online application

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.

Video Interview

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.

Apply by
April 28, 2024
FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for the Fellowship?

Applicants are eligible if they:
• Are teenagers, 14-20
• Haven't started university
• Are located anywhere in the world

What do you look for?

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.

What can I spend the $‎500 scholarship on?

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.

What is the $30,000 in funding?

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

Who is funding the Fellowship?

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.

Do I have to pay to apply?

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.

View All FAQs

Don't Wait to
Change the World

Apply now to join a world-class cohort.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Apply by
April 28, 2024
$500 scholarship
zero fees
Ages 14-20, worldwide
JUL 8-AUG 30, 2024
Flexible timing
$30,000 in Funding
View Program