Sometimes, a few of our efforts to improve the world cause overwhelmingly more impact than others. Smallpox eradication, the abolitionist movement, germ theory, the scientific revolution, the Green Revolution  - projects like these symbolize what's possible.
And yet, many projects barely move the needle or even cause mildly negative impact [2, 3, 4]. Attempts to do good follow a heavily skewed distribution: where the top few projects save and improve many, many more lives than others. (The most famous of such distributions is called the Pareto distribution.)
The Pareto Fellowship is a new, experimental summer program of the Centre for Effective Altruism based at Oxford University. The program aims to equip people with tools to consistently work on projects at the top of this very skewed distribution [e.g., these rarely used approaches to identifying high-impact projects: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9].
We provide training, room and board in the San Francisco Bay, project incubation, and career connections for Fellows to pursue initiatives that help others in a tremendous way. Fellows are typically college-aged or early-career individuals who are analytical, altruistic, and growth-minded. If these recommended readings resonate, it is a sign you may be a good fit.
In total, the program lasts three months in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is divided into two parts: training and project work. To accommodate students with school years that have different ending dates, participants can enroll in the program for one of two waves: June-August or July-September. Young professionals may enroll in either wave.
Some of the primary benefits of the Pareto Fellowship include:
The training of Pareto Fellows does not happen in a vacuum, but in a feedback loop with medium-term projects. Fellows may elect to take on a project from startups, nonprofits, or think tanks associated with the Effective Altruism network. They may also work on one of their own design.
Pareto projects are far more than an internship. Each one involves challenging work and yields outcomes of concrete value by summer’s end. They may span a wide range of activity-types and causes, including launching a startup, researching foundational ethics, investigating global catastrophic risks, writing public policy, or building social movements.
A few of many example projects that Fellows may work on:
Pareto distributions are also found in regard to individual effectiveness. Our hypothesis is that high-end effectiveness is often the product not of inborn ability, but of learnable sets of habits, skills, and models. Pareto Fellows are trained in habits, skills, and models that are particularly beneficial for those who aim to maximize positive impact.
The curriculum consists of advanced tools from a wide range of fields, including cognitive science, philosophy, and entrepreneurship. Below are the five subjects covered, with subtopics:
The ideal Pareto Fellow:
Pareto Fellows can be of any academic or professional background. All else equal, previously demonstrated achievements are a positive sign in a candidate. However, the program primarily selects for growth potential.
When are applications due?
The deadline has been extended until February 21.
What are the dates of the fellowship?
To accommodate students with school years that have different ending dates, participants can enroll in the program for one of two waves: June-August or July-September. Young professionals may enroll in either wave.
Do Fellows need to find their own accommodation in the Bay Area or will accommodation be arranged?
We will arrange for Fellows to stay in group housing to cut out the difficult process of finding housing in the Bay and to facilitate connections amongst the cohort.
Is it expected that fellows have a project in mind before starting the fellowship, or that they develop ideas for a project during?
(a) Enter the program with a project in mind (provided justification)
(b) Select a project idea sourced by the Pareto Fellowship team or provided by one of our allied organizations
(c) Develop an idea for a project over the summer
What can I do to prepare for the content of the Pareto Fellowship?
We recommend these readings, which may also help you decide whether you'd like to apply for the program.
How does the Pareto Fellowship compare to other summer options?
If you are highly set on a particular career path, then other options may be superior to Pareto for the summer. For example, if you are quite sure that you would like to be a lawyer, then it is probable that, say, interning at a law firm would be better for your career. However, if you are interested in a broad network, figuring out how to the greatest impact possible, and are open to many career possibilities, then Pareto is likely a better fit.
Is the Fellowship limited to American nationals?
No, anyone in any country can enroll, provided you can stay legally in the San Francisco Bay Area for at least three months.