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Advice on giving to scholarships

by AlphaOmega1 min read2nd Feb 20211 comment

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Hi EA community,

Firstly, I am aware that donations aimed at improving education levels are not necessarily considered to be overly effective, so this might not be the perfect platform - but equally I am struggling to find a better suited one.

I have started looking into donating parts of my income / wealth and aside from a part which I want to focus on making the most impact, I am passionate about providing people with an opportunity to pursue higher education. What I am essentially looking for is an opportunity to extend a direct university scholarship / grant to individuals. Now I am trying to find an approach on how to identify the best opportunities (globally) where such a support would have the most impact. I am thinking about looking at education penetration levels in connection with GDP (e.g. places which have high levels of secondary education but low tertiary) but am struggling to assess whether this actually makes sense. Given that I am a complete novice I am looking for a way of finding like-minded people who have more experience or could at least help me develop a framework on how to assess this opportunity.

Therefore, I wanted to see whether someone in this community has looked further into such a cause or otherwise would know where such individuals could be found?

Thanks a lot in advance!

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I don't know much about this specific area (consider me a complete amateur), but here are some things I think are worth considering, based on general EA-related ideas that apply across many areas:

Impact: How much money might an average college graduate earn in a given country, compared to someone who finishes secondary school but never goes to college?

Counterfactual: In that country, if someone gets into college, do they take another person's "spot", or is it possible to actually increase the number of people who are attending college? (If the former, trying to help particular people get into college may not have much impact.)

Legibility: How easy is it for you to learn about the education system in a given country? Will you be able to understand which students did well enough in secondary school to have a strong chance of succeeding in college? Do you have a good sense for which areas of study are most likely to improve a student's future prospects?

Those are examples of questions I'd ask if I were trying to provide scholarships.

But the most realistic option is probably to look at a bunch of charities that provide scholarships in low- or middle-income countries and figure out which of them give you promising, high-quality data on impact and some of the other things I mentioned.

You could also consider looking at secondary as well as tertiary education; in many places with low secondary-school completion rates, students might have much better lives if they can afford to finish secondary school, gaining some of the kinds of opportunities you are passionate about (e.g. having access to a broader job market, moving into a better home).