Ethereum is a living entity, distributed across time and space, accessible through our screens and communication devices. What gives it life are the myriad human relationships that have become intertwined with the roots, branches, and leaves of the Ethereum state tree. This single tree encodes immense value, digital property, and dapp utility — not an insignificant slice of human activity.
But the humans who currently give Ethereum life do not represent all humans — many gaps across cultures, nationalities, and class must be bridged. The use cases and novel solutions that have so far been developed and advertised and touted by web3 builders do not yet represent the true potential of Ethereum to enable human flourishing — we have not yet scratched the surface of possibility space.
We believe that the visionaries are out there. We believe that those who understand and work against coordination failure can see glimpses of hope. They have levers with which they intend to move the world, and Ethereum could be their fulcrum. For Ethereum to reach the next billion humans it must become useful not just for the techno-optimists, but for everyone on this messy, complicated, human planet.
We believe that it’s possible to use Ethereum to improve the lives of billions of people. But we need more than just technology — we need new ways of thinking about how humans interact with each other and with their environment. We need new stories to tell, new visions for a better future, and new ways of expressing our values in code.
The Next Billion Fellowship at the Ethereum Foundation is a search for stories: Stories that inspire us to focus on the important things, to find balance and fairness in the way we go about solving our problems, and to push deeper into the mysteries of human cooperation.
We are looking for changemakers, visionaries, and pragmatists. We are looking for stories that represent the best of ourselves, to better imagine a world in which we take the tools at hand, roll up our sleeves, and begin the long and difficult work of pulling the world out of a coordination death spiral.
It’s okay to start with experiments, pilots, and research. Stories of invalidated hypotheses, underestimated challenges, and misaligned incentives are extraordinarily valuable in the quest for new systems of change. We are still at the beginning of a very long journey into unknown territory — map-making is a difficult and worthwhile endeavor.
Fellows could be working as individuals, or as part of a bigger organization. Some fellows might be building directly, designing and testing new technologies that work to solve age-old problems. Others might have a special interest in a particular human context, researching and sharing their findings with other builders in the Ethereum community to help them design better solutions. There are no strict requirements for a Next Billion Fellowship project save one: earnesty.
Next Billion Fellows should be on a personal quest. The Fellowship is neither the beginning nor the end of their journey, but it may provide some support that enables a fellow to get closer to ambitious objectives. Whatever the project, whomever the fellow, the quest must be rooted in the interest of public good.
Call for applicants
We want to aid you on your quest!
Next Billion Fellowship cohort 3 will begin in late June 2023. If you are working to make a difference in the world using Ethereum, please visit our website and submit your application by April 28, 2023. We’ll review all submissions and select applicants who have ideas that can have a big impact on humanity through Ethereum-enabled solutions or protocols that align with public good objectives.
The Fellowship Program provides mentorship from relevant experts, access to resources from the Ethereum Foundation & Ethereum community, financial support, and opportunities for networking and media exposure.
Team Next Billion at the Ethereum Foundation works to find the enablers and blockers of Ethereum’s next billion users. We scout the edges of public good possibility space looking for new use cases, contexts, and communities that indicate how Ethereum might become a tool of and for the next billion.
If you’re interested in talking to us about something outside the scope of the Next Billion Fellowship, contact us here or send us a DM on Twitter @EFNextBillion.