Submit Your Idea for $100,000 Fellowship, San Francisco

Deadline: 31 December 2012
Open to: candidates 19 years old or younger as of 31 December 2012
Fellowship: 100,000 USD

The Thiel Fellowship is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. The Fellowship brings together some of the world’s most creative and motivated young people, and helps them bring their most ambitious ideas and projects to life. Thiel Fellows are given a no-strings-attached grant of $100,000 to skip college and focus on their work, their research, and their self-education. They are mentored by a network of visionary thinkers, investors, scientists, and entrepreneurs, who provide guidance and business connections that can’t be replicated in any classroom. Rather than just studying, you’re doing.

The Thiel Foundation helps fellows to design their own paths; each fellowship will be a unique experience. Each fellow will grow and develop over two years, and so the nature of the work may change substantially as the fellows’ goals shift and mature.

  • The Foundation will match fellows with mentors who have business, vision, or industry expertise, subject to both fellow and mentor approval. Fellows schedule meetings once a month to go over action items from the last month and set new goals and discuss challenges.
  • Fellows who have already started a business will be encouraged to work on that directly and the Foundation will help teach them about business development, fundraising, pitching, and hiring.
  • If a fellow isn’t sure about first steps, the Foundation may suggest a brief internship with a Bay Area company to meet people and see how businesses operate.
  • Other activities may include cohort and Thiel Foundation meetings, conferences, presentations, and other networking and professional events. Most activities occur in Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

Grant awards are distributed in monthly installments beginning on the fellow’s start date. Compelling spending plans that require a greater percentage of the grant during initial stages will be considered. The grants can be used for anything, including living or business expenses. Parents are welcome to support their children; however, it is not expected. In fact, we believe that as a life accelerator it is best for fellows to learn about boot-strapping on a limited budget.

All fellows are responsible for their own housing and living expenses, though mentors will have a great deal of knowledge about how to live and work in California’s San Francisco Bay Area.

The Thiel Foundation expects fellows to think about how they want their work to shape the world 10years from now, not just three months from now. Over the two years of their fellowship, they’re expected to immerse themselves fully in their projects, while keeping in mind their longer-term goals, and to develop the following skills both on their own and through the fellowship.

  • Being Mission Driven Leaders – Understanding not just what they’re doing but why they’re doing it and who is served in the process.
  • Thinking Big – Taking risks in the name of progress and innovation.
  • Learning to Learn – Acting in a resourceful manner and knowing how to tap into networks, organizations, and other resources for support.
  • Problem Solving – Knowing what questions to ask and how to plan to solve them.
  • Service Oriented – Looking to have a huge effect on the lives of others through their science and tech projects.

See more details at the FAQ website HERE.


Candidates must be 19 years old or younger as of December 31st of the application year. The ideal candidate has ideas that simply cannot wait. She or he wants to change the world and has already started to do it in some fashion. They want fellows who dream big and have clear plans, who take risks and learn from mistakes, who think long-term and like to tinker.

Candidates from around the world are encouraged to apply. Foreign candidates are responsible for obtaining their own visa into the United States.


Applications for the 2013 class are due by 11:59 PM, December 31, 2012. Applicants must have been born after December 31, 1992 to qualify. The Thiel Foundation will select the finalists in the spring and expect to announce the fellows in May.

Apply using the online application process AVAILABLE HERE.

Thiel Fellowship applications take about a month per round to assess. The whole process is about four months. There are four rounds to the Thiel Application:

  • General Review – All applications are reviewed for content and completeness.
  • Mentor Review – Applications are reviewed by multiple people from the Thiel Fellowship Network.
  • Semi-finalist Phone Interview – Applicants are interviewed by a Thiel Fellowship mentor.
  • Finalist Weekend – Approximately 40 people are flown to San Francisco to interview with the Foundation and pitch their idea to the Thiel Fellowship Network of mentors and advisors.

For more information about the Thiel Fellowship Program, see the original website HERE.

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