$10,000 Fellowships for women (trans and cis), trans, and non-binary programmers

Rachel Vincent

We’re accepting applications for Fellowships of up to $10,000 for women, trans, and/or non-binary programmers to work on a project or research at the Recurse Center during our Fall batches. The Fellowships will be funded directly by the Recurse Center. We especially encourage people of color to apply.

The deadline to apply for fall Fellowships is 9 am EST on Monday, July 22nd.

Since the Fall 1 batch is happening soon, we’re offering more funding to offset travel costs: Fellows coming from outside of New York City for a six- or 12-week batch starting on August 12th will receive an extra $1,000 travel bonus. Fellows applying to the Fall 2 batch beginning on September 23rd aren’t eligible for a travel bonus.

Work on what you want to

Is there a project or research 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 fall for a one-, six-, or 12-week retreat. We’ll provide up to $10,000 in funding (depending on batch length), a travel bonus for folks from outside New York City who attend the Fall 1 batch, 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 requirement is that it must involve code, and the code must be open source so that others may freely use, learn from, and build on it.

In January we welcomed our first group of Fellows to RC, and were impressed by the work they accomplished: they recreated vintage plotter art, dramatically improved an important algorithm used to sort the human genome, built a blockchain for prayer, did research on using machine learning to improve traffic patterns in urban areas, maintained a Python library they’d recently open-sourced, and used our computing cluster to train language transfer models.

At RC, you’ll have a space where you can focus on your work without the regular obligations of a job or school. You’ll also have the freedom to approach your work however you see fit, and will retain all rights to anything you do here. Though we hope you make meaningful progress on your work, you don’t have to “finish” your project during your time at RC, and you won’t be reporting to an advisor or a boss.

Our space is located 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 solo programming.

In addition to attending the retreat, you’ll join a community of over 1,500 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 (again!)

Ensuring that RC is 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/or non-binary people. Despite regular outreach efforts, our applicant pool skews male, and thus RC has as well.1 Because our batches are relatively small, our gender balance can fluctuate significantly.

Here’s a look at how the number of women, trans, and/or non-binary programmers we’ve added to the RC community has changed over the course of 2019:

Our previous round of Fellowships had a major impact on our overall gender balance in 2019

When we announced Fellowships for our Winter 2, 2019 batch, we saw a dramatic increase in the number of women, trans, and/or non-binary applicants in the following weeks, and our Spring 1, 2019 batch was over 50% women, trans, and/or non-binary folks. That was a long-standing goal, and we’re proud to have reached it.

Unfortunately, applications from those groups have dropped off considerably since the spring. Because of this, our upcoming fall and winter batches are predicted to be far from gender balanced:

While our overall 2019 numbers are good, our upcoming batches have very few women, trans, and non-binary people

Currently, we’re on track for 40% of new Recursers in 2019 to be women, trans, and/or non-binary. That’s an overall improvement, and one that we’re proud of, but it doesn’t show the full picture. Because we know that the experience of being in a batch with a good gender balance is dramatically better for Recursers, we don’t think it’s good enough for some batches to have over 50% women, trans, and non-binary people while others have only 20%.

We hope that our Fellowships will again help diversify our applicant pool and encourage more people, especially women, trans, and/or non-binary people of color, to apply to RC. In the meantime, we’re developing more long-term strategies to encourage folks from marginalized groups to apply to RC.

Details

The amount of money you’re eligible to receive for a Fellowship depends on the batch and the batch length you select. Fellowships are not tuition offsets; RC is free for everyone to attend. The deadline to apply for all fall Fellowships is 9 am EST on July 22nd.

Fall 1, 2019 batch

We’re offering $10,000 for a 12-week batch, and $5,000 for a six-week batch. We’re also offering an extra $1,000 to folks who receive a Fellowship and are coming from outside of New York City to attend to offset some of the higher costs associated with booking travel and housing on short notice.

Fall 2, 2019 batch

We’re offering $10,000 for a 12-week batch, and $5,000 for a six-week batch.

Mini 5, 2019 and Mini 6, 2019 batches

We’re offering $1,500 for these one-week mini batches.

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 either August 12th or September 23rd, 2019.
  • Plan to 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 the Fall 1, 2019 or Fall 2, 2019 (six- or 12-week batches); or the Mini 5, 2019 or Mini 6, 2019 (one-week) batches.
  • Mark that you’re applying for a Fellowship in the “Fall 2019 Fellowships” section.
  • Let us know if you’d like to be considered for a regular batch if you’re not selected for a Fellowship. You can still apply for a need-based grant to support your time at RC.
  • Write a clear description of the project you’d like to work on, your plan for approaching it, and any resources you’ll need in response to the “What do you want to work on at RC?” question.
  • If you’re invited to interview, you’ll do a conversational interview, where we’ll discuss your plan for RC in detail. If that goes well, you’ll be invited to a 30-minute pair programming interview.

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. 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!). We’ll be evaluating applicants in part on what they plan to do at RC, and not whether and how they want to improve as programmers.

If you think 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.

This post has been edited to correct an error regarding the deadline for applying for a Fellowship grant for the Fall 2 batch.

  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.