• Jonas Vollmer, Ashley Lin, and I are starting the Atlas Fellowship, a $50,000 scholarship + all-expenses-paid summer program for ~100 talented high school students from across the world, funded by Open Philanthropy and the FTX Future Fund.
  • If you’re in high school or age 14–19 anywhere in the world, you can apply here by April 10th!
  • If you encourage a student to apply and we accept them into the program, you get $500.
  • You can see templates to share the program and more details on nominations in our outreach guide.
  • We’re hiring (including internships, remote roles, and part-time roles). Learn more here!

About the program

If you read LessWrong, you probably have some sense of what it means to pursue a goal, to actually try to win. We want to help you do that (especially, but not exclusively, if your goal improves the world). We want to give you the chance to not worry about money or deadlines or sending prestigious signals to others and to just do something badass that actually matters.

In particular, if you're the kind of exceptionally talented individual we're looking for, we want to give you:

  • $50,000 for education + professional development
  • Our outlines of an understanding of rationality and how the world works, and all the prerequisites needed for this (ex: Fermi estimates, big history, inside views)
  • Sessions, tutoring, and other resources to help you build object-level technical skills (including AI alignment, economics, probability theory, type theory, statistics, proofs, linear algebra, machine learning, genomics and more)
  • College admissions support (or help with your own projects)
  • Connections to other exceptional people interested in improving the world
  • A fun summer experience

If this sounds interesting, apply here by April 10th!

Why we’re doing this

The world is full of problems that are bottlenecked on talent. But much of the world’s talent is stuck in high school spending their free time rowing to get into Harvard or otherwise trying to send costly signals of academic ability. We think our program will give high school students the intellectual environment, courage, and resources to start working on things that matter instead.

Why high school?

  • Less competition, fewer other good opportunities: while bright college students or adults have many exciting opportunities available to them (including opportunities from others in our community), there’s almost nothing for high-school students.
  • Less locked-in to existing career paths: the rowing and the Harvards don’t really end, and the longer people stay on that track, the harder it is to get them to start tackling the world’s biggest problems.
  • Potentially more fluid intelligence: we tentatively hypothesize that the younger people are when they learn difficult technical topics, the longer they will be able to help solve challenging intellectual problems at peak fluid intelligence. (Though this reason isn't a crux for us and we haven't looked into it very carefully.)

If you have more questions about the program, check out our FAQ on our site, leave a comment or email

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18 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 12:30 AM

It's so great that you're doing this. I never really thought about how much time, energy and mind-space get lost when students have to priotitize all these pressures like grades, college application and costs of living over actually doing things that are meaningful to them and potentially useful to the world.

Your project sounds like an amazing opportunity for everyone involved, and I'm curious to see how it will develop over time.

I'm surprised at the $500 reward for nominating a student who is accepted into the program. It might encourage people to give a glowing reference to someone who really isn't that good.

If you aren't receiving as many applications as you'd like, I'd suggest that this might be because it's the first time that you're running this program. I expect word of mouth would quickly mean that future rounds would receive many more applications.

I appreciate the suggestion! But I think you've slightly misunderstood our nomination process. As hath surmised, nominations are an easy way for people to share the program with students they think might be a good fit, not a part of our admissions decisions. We don't ask students for a nomination on the application. Apologies for not making that more clear!

Update: edited the post to make it more clear what we mean by "nomination."

As far as I know, the purpose of the nomination is "provide an incentive for you to share the Atlas Fellowship with those you think might be interested" not "help make our admissions decisions". I agree that, if the nomination form was weighted heavily in the admissions decisions, we would be incentivized to speak highly of those who don't deserve it to get 500$.

Hi Sydney!

I was thrilled to learn about this program and just submitted my Stage 2 Application last night! I'm really impressed with how much thought went into the application questions. It was definitely a challenge, but it also forced me to genuinely think in ways that most scholarship applications don't. I was wondering if the questions the application asked are representative of the material being taught at the summer program? I think they brought up some really fascinating issues and concepts that I'd love to explore further. It's obvious you all are putting a lot of work into creating a genuinely meaningful program. I'm excited to hear back from you!!

Damn, being twenty sucks.


Does anyone have an alternative? I can't go to The Thiel Fellowship either because I've already gotten my undergraduate (started early).

I'll direct message you some similar options you might want to check out! I think there's a lot of cool stuff out there for 20-year-olds who meet the same bar as Atlas fellows.

hi Sydney! Could I also hear about this? Having the same issue as a 21 year old who wants to get more involved.

as a high schooler who just discovered this, are there any other opportunities you're aware of that still have applications open? thank you so much!

Hey Sydney,

I love the idea of the Atlas Fellowship and would be super interested in helping you run and scale the program. I applied for a Generalist position last week and am looking forward to hearing back from your team!

I thought a few days ago I read somewhere on this program website (probably the FAQ) that college students who have not completed their first year are also eligible. But now I can't find the language. Has there been a recent update of the eligibility requirement or have I mixed it up with something else?

This is still true! In particular, if you took a gap year before going to college you are eligible.

Hi Sydney, thanks for replying. Yes, I read about the eligibility of gap year student in the FAQ. But if one didn't take a gap year and is currently enrolled in a college as a freshman, will he or she be eligible to apply? I thought the FAQ used to say that as long as you have not completed the first year of college (I assume at the time of application) you may apply. But I can't find the language anymore now.

Hi Sydney,

This seems like a fantastic program! I will definitely apply and tell my friends to spread the word for this amazing opportunity. I'm a 17-year old Junior and was wondering if you knew any other similar programs like Atlas.

Hi Kirty!

Keep in mind applications are due tomorrow!

ESPR and SPARC are somewhat similar programs. Some other programs along these lines have been run in the recent past, but I don't know if they'll happen again. Similarly, I've heard people talk about running other programs this summer, but I'm not sure where those stand. I'll add another comment if I get updates on those programs.

Sounds great, thanks.  Do any of these programs provide money for winners?


(And yes, I submitted to Atlas! Super excited to hear back.)

No, they don't unfortunately. But they are pretty awesome programs and I recommend checking them out!