The MacArthur Fellows Program
, also known as the MacArthur Fellowship
and commonly but unofficially known as the "Genius Grant
", is a prize awarded annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
typically to between 20 and 30 individuals, working in any field, who have shown "extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction" and are citizens or residents of the United States
According to the foundation's website, "the fellowship is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person's originality, insight, and potential". The current prize is $625,000 paid over five years in quarterly installments. This figure was increased from $500,000 in 2013 with the release of a review
of the MacArthur Fellows Program. Since 1981, 942 people have been named MacArthur Fellows,
ranging in age from 18 to 82.
The award has been called "one of the most significant awards that is truly 'no strings attached'".
The program does not accept applications. Anonymous and confidential nominations are invited by the foundation and reviewed by an anonymous and confidential selection committee of about a dozen people. The committee reviews all nominees and recommends recipients to the president and board of directors
. Most new Fellows first learn of their nomination and award upon receiving a congratulatory phone call. MacArthur Fellow Jim Collins
described this experience in an editorial column of The New York Times
Michael H. Freedman
C. D. Wright