$10,000 Fellowships for women working on open source programming projects, research, and art

Rachel vincent circle Rachel Vincent

We’re accepting applications for $10,000 Fellowships for women, trans, and non-binary people who would like to work on a project or research at the Recurse Center this winter. The Fellowships will be funded directly by the Recurse Center. We will be reserving at least 50% of our funding for women, trans, and non-binary people of color.

Support to work on what you want to

Is there a project you’ve always wanted to start or contribute to, but you haven’t had the time or resources to do so? Now’s your chance: apply to RC this winter for a one, six, or 12-week retreat. We’ll provide up to $10,000 in funding (depending on batch length), 24/7 access to our space, and a supportive community of fellow programmers.

You can work on whatever programming-related project you want. The only hard constraints on what you can do here are that it must involve code, and the code must be open source so that others may freely use, learn from, and build upon it.

For example, you could make experimental games, or algorithmic art or music. You could build software for accessibility, like screen readers or automated transcription. You could make a better ad blocker, or other tools to protect people’s privacy and security. You could contribute to existing developer infrastructure, start a new programming language, or kickstart original long-term research.

At RC, you’ll have a space where you can focus on your work without the regular obligations of school or a job. You’ll also have the freedom to approach your work however you see fit, and will retain all rights to anything you do here. You don’t have to “finish” your project during your time here, and you won’t be reporting to an advisor or a boss. If you realize that it’s not the best thing to continue doing, you can set it aside and choose something else to work on.

Our new space in Brooklyn has two floors, a wellness and lactation room, pairing stations, and lots of natural light. One of our floors is set up for pairing, giving presentations, and group work, while our other floor has a library of books and is kept quiet for focused individual programming.

In addition to attending the retreat, you’ll join a community of over 1,300 kind, sharp, and intellectually curious programmers who have experience in a wide variety of programming topics. They have done academic research, given scores of conference talks, started companies, and created art, games, and music. You’ll be connected with folks who can pair with you, discuss what you’re working on, answer questions, and contribute to generative conversations about programming.

Why we’re doing this

Nearly seven years ago, we set out to create a gender-balanced environment at RC. In early 2012, we partnered with Etsy and offered our first need-based grants for women who were admitted to RC but couldn’t afford to pay for living expenses during their time here. Over the years we’ve made numerous efforts to make RC a more diverse and inclusive place, from establishing healthy social rules, to expanding our grants to support people from traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, to introducing one-week mini retreats and revising our policies to be more family-friendly. In total, we have given more than $1.5 million in grants to people from traditionally underrepresented groups in technology since launching our grants program.

Ensuring a supportive and diverse environment is crucial to our mission of building the best place to grow as a programmer because RC is community-driven. While our community has grown in size and diversity along many dimensions, it has been increasingly challenging for us to maintain a gender-balanced environment. We are still very far from our goal of consistently having RC batches be comprised of at least 50% women, trans, and non-binary people. Despite regular outreach efforts, our applicant pool has skewed increasingly male, and thus RC has as well.1 Because our batches are relatively small, our gender balance can fluctuate significantly; at points this year RC has been about 40% women, trans, and non-binary people, but in recent months and looking ahead to our upcoming batches, we are doing significantly worse, which is why we’re trying this now.

We hope that our Fellowships will help diversify our applicant pool and encourage more people, especially women, trans, and non-binary people of color, to apply to RC.

Details

The amount of money you’re eligible to receive for a Fellowship depends on how long you come to RC for. We’re offering $10,000 for a 12-week batch, $5,000 for a six-week batch, and $1,500 for a one-week mini batch.

To qualify for a Fellowship, you must:

  • Identify as a woman, as trans, and/or as non-binary.
  • Be able to attend RC for one, six, or 12 weeks starting on January 7, 2019.
  • Work on code or research that’s open source, whether it’s your own project or a contribution to someone else’s, and share your work publicly however you think makes the most sense (as a blog post, paper, website, or something else).

Current members of the RC community who meet the above criteria are welcome to apply for a Fellowship.

The admissions process for Fellowships is very similar to our standard admissions process:

  • Apply for the Winter 2, 2019 (six- or 12-weeks) or Mini 1, 2019 (one week) batch.
  • Mark that you’re applying for a Fellowship in the “Winter 2019 Fellowships” section, and let us know if you’d like to be considered both for a Fellowship and a regular batch (if you’re not selected for a Fellowship), or just a Fellowship.
  • Write a clear description of the project you’d like to work on under, “What do you want to work on at RC?”
  • If you’re invited to interview, you’ll do a 45-minute conversational interview with a faculty member, where we’ll discuss your plan for RC. If that goes well, you’ll be invited to a 30-minute pair programming interview with one of our alumni interviewers.

Our admissions criteria for Fellowships is identical to our normal admissions criteria, with one exception. For a regular batch, we look for people who want to become dramatically better programmers, and we expect people doing a batch of RC to prioritize that, even above making progress on a project. But for Fellowships, the focus is making progress on a project or research, even if it doesn’t make you a dramatically better programmer (though we hope it does!). And so we’ll be evaluating applicants in part on what they hope to do at RC, and not whether and how they want to improve as programmers.

We review applications on a rolling basis. However, given the tight timeline before the session begins on January 7th, you should apply as soon as possible to ensure you have time to complete the admission process. We plan to do the majority of interviews for Fellowships between December 18th and 20th. Because of the holiday break, we cannot guarantee interview availability during the week of December 24th.

If you think this a Fellowship could be a good fit for you, we hope to see you apply. And if not, we hope you’ll share this opportunity with a friend or colleague who may benefit from it.

If you have any questions, email us at faculty@recurse.com.

  1. We do not take demographics into account when making admissions decisions: we hold everyone who applies to RC to the same bar. To reduce unconscious biases, we use pseudonyms and hide names and demographic information during our initial application review.