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I’m pleased to introduce Leaf, an independent nonprofit that supports exceptional (pre-university) teenagers to explore how they can best save lives, help others, or change the course of history.

This includes:

  • Engaging with relevant ideas and opportunities
  • Making informed academic and career choices
  • Developing sustainable habits for long-term impact

Of course, we have a great time and make lasting friendships along the way.

It's organised by me, Jamie Harris. After teaching full-time for three years, I became a researcher at a longtermist think tank, then co-founded an Open Phil-funded, CE-incubated nonprofit helping people to maximise their positive impact for animals.

 

Changemakers Fellowship

This summer, Leaf is running the Changemakers Fellowship, a programme for smart, curious, and ambitiously altruistic 16-18 year olds in the UK to meet other changemakers tackling pressing social issues, and fast-track their progress towards making a major difference.

The Fellowship is about exploration of ambitious aims like preventing human extinction or steering the course of history towards a more positive future. 

It includes a one-week residential in an Oxford college with group workshops, discussions, talks, plus supported co-working to make progress on projects. After the residential, participants will be paired with a mentor who can support them with altruistic projects, career/uni decisions, and connections. 

We’ve run two similar programmes before, in 2021 and 2022. The participants last year were fantastic. For example, 36% achieved all grade 9s at GCSE, compared to 0.6% of the UK. They were also diverse: 66% selected an ethnicity other than white, which compares to 14% of the UK and 24% of the effective altruism community, and 46% were female.

Of course, not everything turned out perfectly. I’ll leave some thoughts on challenges in a comment. And contact me if you’d like to read my report on our previous programmes!

Nothing really tells the story of Leaf like our video of last year’s programme

 

Join our team!

We need amazing staff to successfully support and inspire our participants. I’m now recruiting for a bunch of different role types:

  • 8-20 Counsellors: Low responsibilities, high flexibility. Options for paid tasks. Find collaborators, get feedback on your work, and develop mentorship skills.
  • 6-12 Facilitators: More responsibilities, both safeguarding and leading workshops. Paid. Develop facilitation and mentorship skills and explore paid community building work.
  • A Safeguarding Lead: Make sure participants are safe, happy, and healthy. Enable them to explore and contribute to important problems in the long term.
  • An Operations Lead: Help organise and run the programme smoothly, increasing participants’ motivation to keep engaging and to recommend Leaf to others.


For each of these, priority will be given to applications received by Sunday 11th June. Unfortunately, for insurance-related reasons, staff need to be normally resident in the UK. 


Please get in touch (jamie@leaf.courses) with other suggestions, e.g. if you’re keen to:

  • Mentor participants even if you can’t make it to the residential
  • Give a talk to our participants — in-person at the residential or virtually afterwards
  • Set up a comparable programme outside the UK next summer

 

And of course, if you have ideas for someone who might be a great fit for any of these roles, please share this with them!


I’ll be at EAG London this weekend; feel free to send me a meeting request if you have questions! I’m also hoping to grow my circle of advisors; if you're an entrepreneur, especially in the fields of education, community building, or talent search, I'd be keen to connect.

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Running in-person programmes like this is time-consuming and expensive. Is it worth it? 

I have two main uncertainties:

  1. Can we get truly exceptional people ‘in the room’?
  2. Can we successfully encourage long-term engagement with the question of how we can do the most good?

We’re making good headway on the first of these. This year, applications have skyrocketed to around 700 so far (up from 174 in 2022), competing for ~50 places. Most of these applications are from people new to Leaf, but we’ll also have some of the most engaged or promising participants from our earlier online programmes attending, plus some returnees from last year. Longer-term, I hope to develop a pipeline of various (online) programmes and competitions all feeding into identifying a truly exceptional cohort for the residentials.

It’s early days to comment on engagement relative to last year, but I’m optimistic about some of the variations we’ll be trying, such as the mentorship programme. Of course, success here depends on building up a great team of staff, speakers, and mentors. Refer back to “Join our team” above!

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