tl;dr: The EA Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) is no longer accepting applications for EA university group funding, effective immediately. University group organizers can instead apply to Open Phil’s new University Organizer Fellowship (for paying for organizer time and/or group expenses), CEA’s Group Support Funding (for group expenses), and UGAP (for financial support and guidance for early stage groups). 

If we receive applications from uni groups who are no longer eligible for EAIF funding, we will let you know and direct you to a more appropriate funding source. Applicants therefore do not need to worry that an application will, without their knowledge, remain unprocessed for eligibility reasons.

You can find all the funding sources that currently provide funding to EA groups and group organizers in this page on the EA Groups Resource Centre. 

We expect the Open Phil’s University Organizer Fellowship to have a similar evaluation process and turnaround time as the EAIF. We expect it will be different in that Open Phil’s bar for funding may be somewhat higher (currently ~68% acceptance rate at Open Phil, versus just under 85% acceptance rate for EAIF university groups). 

If you have any questions or concerns about this change, please let us know in the comments or email max@effectivealtruismfunds.org.


Outline:

  • Application the EAIF is no longer accepting
  • Applications the EAIF is still accepting
  • Why we are making this change
  • Information for current grantees

For helpful comments we thank Catherine Low, Brian Tan, Asya Bergal, Eli Rose, Caleb Parikh, and Joan Gass. 

Applications the EAIF is no longer accepting

  • We will stop accepting applications from university groups, as well as other, non-EA branded university groups, if they are eligible for Open Phil’s University Organizer Fellowship.
    • For context, with their University Organizer Fellowship, Open Phil is interested in funding a wide range of university student groups – not just EA-branded groups. They are interested in funding groups focused on longtermism, existential risks, rationality, Slate Star Codex / Astral Codex Ten, forecasting, specific cause areas or career paths (including biosecurity, potential risks from advanced artificial intelligence, and transformative technology policy), or “others similar or related to the above.”
    • Open Phil also continues to be interested in funding groups focused on effective altruism — including those with a neartermist focus. 
    • See more detail about this in their EA Forum post & AMA.
  • For groups focused on animal welfare, we plan to refer their applications to the Animal Welfare Fund going forward.

If you are still uncertain about where you should apply for funding, contact groups@centreforeffectivealtruism.org and they can advise you about your funding options.

Applications the EAIF is still accepting

  • City and national groups are still welcome to apply to the EAIF. However, we recommend that those locations who are eligible for CEA’s Community Building Grants apply there first.
  • The following types of university group-related projects will remain eligible for EAIF funding:
    • Personal development grants
      • For example, if someone wants to skill up in a certain cause area while studying at university, they are welcome to apply to the EAIF.
    • Infrastructure support
      • If someone needs funding for a laptop, certain software, or something else relating to infrastructure, they are welcome to apply to the EAIF.
    • Intergroup projects
      • Projects that span multiple university groups, e.g. retreats, programs, or residencies can still apply to the EAIF.
    • The EAIF remains open for university groups that are not eligible for Open Phil’s University Organizer Fellowship. While we have not received any such applications in the past, this might for instance apply to hypothetical groups focused on global health and development or effective giving.
    • We also continue to be open to funding organizations supporting university groups (e.g. our grants to Cambridge Effective Altruism CIC, or the Global Challenges Project).
  • More broadly, the EAIF's grantmaking outside of the university groups space is not affected by this change. Some examples of grants that we have made in the past include independent research on the EA community, translating EA articles into other languages, and developing forecasting platforms – and we continue to be excited to receive applications for such projects as well as any other ones related to EA infrastructure, projects that are relevant to several EA cause areas, and high-impact projects that are not a good fit for any of the other funds at EA Funds. For more examples of projects the EAIF as funded in the past, please see our payout reports.

Why we are making this change

Note: This post was primarily written by Max and Emma, and the basic decision was discussed with the other EAIF managers and advisers as well as EA Funds Interim Project Lead Caleb Parikh, who all broadly agreed. However, it was only Emma and Max who drafted this section, and only Max who last revised it. It may not be a good representation of others’ views.

  • We agree with Asya from Open Phil that “student organizers have an outsized effect on the community and its culture”, and therefore view funding decisions in this space as relatively high-stakes. We therefore think that this space is better served by a funder who – like the longtermist movement building team at Open Phil, but unlike the EAIF – is able to devote significant capacity to strategic thinking and maintaining situational awareness.
    • In particular, to the extent that Open Phil is going to place a somewhat different emphasis on the relative weight of different criteria when evaluation uni group applications, including potentially in a way that might result in a lower acceptance rate than was previously the case at the EAIF, we think that this is probably the right call (though due to the limited amount of strategic thinking we’ve done on the EA uni group space this belief involves some amount of deferral rather than fully independent agreement).
  • The EAIF has struggled with insufficient capacity for several months. We’ve been attempting to recruit additional fund managers and assistants, but also think that withdrawing from spaces which we feel are well covered by other funders is an effective way to focus our capacity at an acceptable cost.
  • We expect that the experience of EA university groups seeking funding will not be significantly affected.
    • In particular, they will be able to seek funding for anything that the EAIF was in principle willing to fund – they’ll just need to apply to Open Phil or CEA instead.
    • Note also that applicants who were rejected by Open Phil can reapply there, though Asya here clarifies that in most cases it’ll make sense to wait for at least three months.
  • Some costs for applicants that we do anticipate, but which we feel are outweighed by the benefits of this change, include:
    • Unlike on an EAIF grant, there will not be monthly check-ins through the University Organizer Fellowship. University groups can instead get support from UGAP or the EA Groups Resource Centre.
    • This move consolidates more funding decisions at Open Phil. This has some benefits (e.g., as mentioned, a closer integration with community building strategy) but also some costs, both from the perspective of global decision quality (e.g., a higher correlation of errors across funding decisions) and regarding applicants’ experience (e.g. see next point).
    • Some applicants might prefer to be evaluated by the EAIF rather than Open Phil. For instance, they might feel that applying to Open Phil is higher-stakes because Open Phil also makes a number of other funding decisions. Or they might happen to have talked to an EAIF fund manager while being unfamiliar with Open Phil, and so might feel they better understand what the EAIF is looking for. However, we are not aware of such a preference being a common phenomenon, and we also expect there’ll be some applicants with the contrary preference.

Information for current EAIF grantees

  • Approved grants whose grant period exceeds August 18 are not affected by this change. For instance, if you are a university organizer to whom we approved a grant last week for the period up to November you will still receive the full grant amount and there will be no changes in how and when you can use that funding. However, if you wanted to apply for a renewed grant after August 18, you would need to do so from Open Phil or CEA.

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2 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 6:39 PM

Yes, I'll ask Max to clarify that in the first line.