“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go”
The world has a plethora of problems and we believe that young technologists can help solve them.
Yet, too often, there are barriers in place—from a lack of funding opportunities to limited access to mentorship. That’s why we launched the First Act Fund—a new source of catalytic funding and support. We’re encouraging young people with technical backgrounds to pursue impactful and innovative ideas.
Our goal? To create significant technical solutions for some of the most pressing challenges of our time.
Areas of Funding
Our team seeks to fund ideas that improve the world in several key categories. The topics outlined below are merely suggestions and we strongly encourage unique proposals that address pressing problems.
From reimagining the hospital systems to new biotechnology advancements, healthcare proposals should look to improve health outcomes either from a scientific or social perspective.
Homelessness, food insecurity, domestic violence, disaster response—these are just a few of the areas that demand attention in humanitarian efforts. Humanitarian relief proposals should explore how to improve conditions for individuals while addressing the root causes of these issues.
Whether in the United States or globally, education is the basis for world-changing ideas. Educational proposals could focus on reforming education systems, digitizing curricula, improving literacy, or creating learning opportunities.
Advancing opportunity for marginalized communities, increasing labor force participation, and galvanizing entrepreneurship are a few ways to challenge economic inequities. Economic opportunity proposals should empower individuals and improve their economic standing.
Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our time. Environmental proposals could focus on a variety of topic areas: mitigating CO2 emissions, innovative recycling technologies, reducing food waste, or improving agricultural production.
Civics and Government
Our civic institutions are hundreds, if not thousands, of years old—and many of them require innovation to keep pace in the 21st century. From addressing misinformation in the news to contacting elected officials, to conducting government oversight, civic and governmental proposals should address how to improve civic experiences for both individuals and society.
Summer 2019 Grantees
Adithi Raghavan, Age 17, Founder
BEEducated is a youth-driven organization combating the harmful environmental and economic impacts of Colony Collapse Disorder on the global bee population with a machine learning algorithm. The initiative focuses on gathering data through congressionally-funded pollinator research and from bee rehabilitation communities across the United States. These data points are then used to refine a machine learning model that beekeepers can implement with Raspberry Pi 3 computers to monitor their hives for signs of Colony Collapse Disorder.
Callum Taylor, Age 17, Founder
Growing up on a cattle ranch in Australia, Callum became acutely aware of the absence of operating data and imperfect information that was hindering productivity not just on his property, but on all Australian ranches and farms. He launched AgX, a smart operation system that enables precision ranching and farming in low-connectivity areas to help solve this problem. Using two main devices — a soil SmartProbe and a livestock SmartTag — that gather key information, along with a nano-satellite network, AgX delivers data to farmers and ranchers in a customized, fully-integrated IOT framework with perfect connectivity.
How to Apply
If you’re interested in applying, please read over our Request for Proposals document. In it, you’ll find information on what we’re looking for, our evaluation criteria, and details on how to submit your application.
Opens: September 16, 2019
Closes: October 16, 2019
Decisions: November 15, 2019
Opens: December 16, 2019
Closes: January 20, 2020
Decisions: February 14th, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions
HOW MUCH MONEY WILL SUCCESSFUL APPLICANTS RECEIVE?
Successful applicants will receive up to $10,000 in grant funding, along with mentorship and guidance from our team.
Who is eligible to apply?
Anyone 24 or younger. We expect most applicants will be in school or just beginning their careers, but anyone 24 or under who has a great idea with high impact potential and a strong technical component is eligible to apply.
Can I apply on behalf of a team?
Yes, as long as you are a core member of the team (e.g. co-founder of a product, author of a policy proposal). To submit your application as a team, please include an attachment of each member’s resume, as well as an additional page in your proposal describing each member’s role and experience.
Does my idea need to be commercially viable?
No. We look for ideas built around a core insight into how we can solve challenges facing humanity. Those ideas can be commercial, non-profit, policy-oriented, or a mix of these approaches.
What support will successful applicants receive?
Successful applicants will receive financial support that will give them the resources necessary to refine and stress-test their idea. We will also offer mentorship and access to our broader network of industry, academic, nonprofit, and government experts. The best ideas may receive additional support.
Will The First Act Fund have a stake in my idea?
No. Initial, early risk capital funding provided by the First Act Fund is not in exchange for equity, shares, or any other form of compensation.
Are non-u.s. citizens eligible to apply?
How developed does my idea need to be?
While you don’t need a proof of concept or a minimum viable project to apply, we’re looking for evidence of a clear understanding of the problem and the idea you have.
Do I need a background in computer Science to apply?
While we recommend that you or core members of your team have strong technical backgrounds, you don’t need to be formally studying computer science to apply. In fact, there are no formal educational requirements.
Do i need to have a team or an incorporated entity to apply?
Do I need to cite my sources in my proposal?
If you are including knowledge from a source other than your team, we require you to cite it. We encourage you to use footnotes with hyperlinks so our team can easily identify the source.
What are the expected deliverables from the work of successful applicants?
The expected deliverables and grant timeline for each project will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Interim check-ins and milestones may be set to guide progress.
Do I need to relocate to participate?