20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship Rules


Sponsor is the Thiel Foundation, (“Sponsor” or “Thiel Foundation”).


The Fellowship is open to natural persons between the ages of 14 and 20 who are budding entrepreneurs. Employees of the Thiel Foundation and their immediate family members and those living in their household, and each person or entity connected with the production or administration of the Fellowship, are not eligible. THIS FELLOWSHIP IS VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

In order to be eligible to accept a Fellowship, an Applicant younger than the age of majority must have the permission of his/her parent and/or guardian and his/her parent and/or guardian must execute all agreements required under these rules on behalf of him/her self and the Selected Applicant.

Teams of up to four may apply. Each team member of a Selected Team may receive a full individual Fellowship and would be considered a Selected Applicant. Each team member must be eligible for a Fellowship. Each team member must fill out and submit an entire application. A team’s set of applications will be considered as a single Fellowship Application. All members of a team must accept the fellowship, or the others may forfeit eligibility.


Each application received on or before the December 31 of the application year will be reviewed and up to twenty fellowships will be awarded. Each member of a Selected Team may count toward that total.

Selected Applicants will be required to respond (as directed) to the phone and/or email notification within 168 hours of attempted notification. Fellowship Applicants will also be sent an affidavit of eligibility / liability / publicity release (“Release”). The Release will include permission by the Selected Applicant to allow the Thiel Foundation to use the submitted content on the Thiel Foundation website and in any and all advertising throughout the world, in all media now known or hereafter developed, without additional compensation.

Selected Applicant must be willing to:

  1. Begin the two-year fellowship at any time from May to September, unless the Foundation approves an alternative schedule. A Selected Fellowship Applicant/Team must specify when the start of the Fellowship will be when the Selected Fellowship Applicant/Team accepts the Fellowship.
  2. Stop active enrollment in school during the Fellowship.
  3. Forgo other employment or educational enrollment during the two year Fellowship except as approved by the Thiel Foundation.
  4. Consider moving to California.
  5. Achieve a specific objective, produce a report or similar project, or improve or enhance a scientific, technical, or charitable capacity, skill, or talent. This may be developed over the course of the Fellowship.

Should a Selected Applicant/Team be unwilling or otherwise unable to do so and/or to provide the requested permissions and or releases, the Thiel Foundation reserves the right to withdraw the offer of a Fellowship to such Applicant and his or her Team (thereby disqualifying such Selected Applicant/Team from receiving the Fellowship award).


Each Selected Applicant shall:

  1. Receive $100,000 over two years; and
  2. Participate in instruction by and discussion with members of the Thiel Foundation’s network of tech entrepreneurs and philanthropists regarding the creation of disruptive technologies and receive mentorship, employment opportunities, support, and training.

If for any reason whatsoever a Selected Applicant does not accept the Fellowship Award (or any part of the prize) on the dates and times stipulated by the Sponsor, then the Fellowship will be forfeited by the Applicant.

Selected Applicants shall be required to sign and return within fifteen (15) days following an attempted notification, an Affidavit, Declaration or Certificate of Eligibility, Liability Release, and where legally permissible a Publicity Release and Warranty of Ownership and License in which Applicant warrants that he/she is the owner of the Essay(s) and/or Video(s) and grants Sponsor the right to use the Essay(s) and/or Video(s) as specified in Licenses below. Selected Applicants must provide the Thiel Foundation with all signatures on the Release and return all documents in a timely manner as required pursuant to these Official Rules in order to be eligible to receive the Fellowship.


This Fellowship is subject to these Official Rules and is VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. By participating, Applicants agree: (i) to be bound by these complete Official Rules and the decisions of the Thiel Foundation, which shall be final and binding; and (ii) to waive any right to claim ambiguity in the Fellowship or these Official Rules, except where prohibited by law. By accepting a Fellowship, Selected Applicants agree to release the Thiel Foundation and its affiliated entities, together with their respective directors, employees, officers, licensees, licensors and agents, and respective advertising and promotion entities (collectively, the Releasees), from any and all liability, loss, or damage arising from or in connection with awarding, receipt or participation in any Fellowship-related activities. The Thiel Foundation reserves the right to cancel or suspend the Fellowship, in its sole discretion, should it receive fewer than 100 entries, or due to circumstances beyond its control, including natural disasters. The Thiel Foundation may, in its sole discretion, cancel, modify, or suspend the Fellowship should a virus, bug, computer problem, unauthorized intervention, or other causes beyond the Thiel Foundation’s control corrupt the administration or security of the Fellowship. The Thiel Foundation may prohibit an Applicant from participating in the Fellowship if, in its sole discretion, it determines such Applicant is attempting to undermine the legitimate operation of the Fellowship by cheating, plagiarizing, engaging in any deception, or any other unfair practices or attempting to annoy, abuse, threaten, undermine, or harass any other Applicants or Thiel Foundation representatives, or if the entry is illegible, incomplete, damaged, irregular, altered, counterfeit, produced in error, or obtained through fraud and/or theft. Disputes regarding these Official Rules and/or this Fellowship will be governed by the internal laws of the State of California. The Thiel Foundation may cancel or modify the Fellowship at any time for any reason without obligation to any Applicants.


By providing a Submission or accepting a Fellowship, Fellowship Applicants acknowledge that the Fellowship includes responsibilities on the part of the Selected Applicant over the two-year fellowship period between the selected fellowship start date and the date two years after that. By accepting a Fellowship, a Selected Applicant is representing that she/he is able and willing to participate in the fellowship. If a Selected Applicant is unable or unwilling, for any reason, to fulfill her/his duties, or does not perform her/his duties in a way that, in the sole discretion of the Thiel Foundation, is at a professional level, the Selected Applicant may be dismissed from the Fellowship, and the remaining portion of the Fellowship stipend shall be withdrawn.

Applicants also agree (a) to be bound by these Official Rules; (b) that the decisions of the Thiel Foundation are final and binding with respect to all matters relating to the Fellowship; and (c) if the Applicant is selected that Sponsor may use the winning Essay(s) and/or Video(s) and such Applicant’s name, photograph, likeness, and/or voice in any publicity or advertising relating to the Fellowship or future promotions without compensation or approval (except in Tennessee and where prohibited by law). The Thiel Foundation reserves the right to verify the representations made in the Application, and the validity and originality of any materials submitted (including an Applicant’s identity and address) and to disqualify any Application that is not in accordance with these Official Rules. Failure by the Thiel Foundation to enforce any of its rights at any stage does not constitute a waiver of those rights.


By submitting an Application, Applicants grant the Thiel Foundation the sublicenseable right to use all or part of the Submissions to the Fellowship for publicity purposes prior to or after the Fellowship end date, in any and all media, and to use the name, likeness, and hometown name of any Applicant. Thiel Foundation will only sublicense such rights to media partners it selects and solely to further publicize the Fellowship, the Foundation, Applicant, and/or the Submissions. Selected Applicants will be required, as a condition of accepting their Fellowship, to sign a declaration of eligibility, a liability release, and a publicity release to allow the Thiel Foundation and/or its sublicensees to use his/her name, likeness, hometown name, and winning testimonial and/or Fellowship information for publicity purposes, in all media now known or hereafter developed, without any compensation or prior review, unless specifically prohibited by law.


All federal, state, provincial, territorial, and local taxes (whether foreign or domestic, and including income, sales, and import taxes); fees; and surcharges on Fellowship awards are the sole responsibility of the prize winners, and Applicant may be issued an IRS Form 1099 for the actual retail value (or relevant portion thereof) of any awarded prize. THIS FELLOWSHIP IS VOID WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW, and subject to applicable federal, state, provincial, territorial, and/or local laws. The Thiel Foundation reserves the right to disqualify any Applicant it finds to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Fellowship or violating these Official Rules.

By submitting an Application to the Fellowship, Applicants agree to release, discharge, and hold harmless the Thiel Foundation, and its partners, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising agencies, agents, and their employees, officers, directors, and representatives from any claims, losses, and damages arising out of their participation in this Fellowship or any Fellowship-related activities, including travel, and the acceptance and use, misuse, or possession of any prize awarded hereunder.


All personal information collected by the Thiel Foundation will be used for administration of the Fellowship and in accordance with the Thiel Foundation’s privacy policy only. Any questions regarding privacy matters should be directed to the address set out below. Please refer to the Thiel Foundation’s privacy policy for important information regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information by the Thiel Foundation.


The Thiel Foundation
1 Letterman Dr., Bldg C, Suite 400,
San Francisco, CA 94117


It is not the owner of stage-coaches who builds railways. — Joseph Schumpeter

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