2021 Bezos Scholar Applications are now open. Apply to be a Scholar today!

Lead Change

The Bezos Scholars Program is a year-long leadership development program that amplifies youth voice and action.

Program at a Glance

Every year, 17 exceptional high school juniors and an educator from each school are selected as Bezos Scholars. Scholars are chosen from across the U.S. and the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa. After spending a week immersed in learning at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Scholars return home and develop a community change project to make a positive difference in their communities.

Once selected, Scholars join a global alumni network where they are offered opportunities to connect, collaborate, get inspired, and take action for the greater good.

Annual Program Timeline

Following Academic Year Community Change Projects Late June Aspen Ideas Festival Spring Scholars Selected Winter Application Due Fall Application Opens Impact Take Action Apply
Impact Take Action Apply Following Academic Year Community Change Projects Late June Aspen Ideas Festival Spring Scholars Selected Winter Application Due Fall Application Opens

Scholar selection

Each year, through a competitive application and selection process, the Bezos Scholars Program selects a new group of Scholars. Twelve U.S. students and five students from the African Leadership Academy are chosen, along with a supportive educator from each school.

Successful applicants are public high school juniors and a staff person from their school that serves as their educator and participates fully in the program. Successful applicants have a strong drive and commitment to their education and demonstrate maturity, curiosity, grit, and leadership. Meet our Scholars
to learn more about the incredible students and educators selected since 2005.

2019 Bezos Scholars pose together at Aspen Ideas Festival
2019 Bezos Scholar Peyton asks question during group leadership training session at Aspen Ideas Festival

Program offering

Scholars build connections with peers and educators from across the U.S. and Africa, get inspired by global leaders, and collaborate with their communities to make a meaningful impact. After being immersed in learning at the Aspen Ideas Festival and engaging in year-long leadership development opportunities, Scholars ignite action in their schools, communities, and beyond by developing and executing their own Community Change Project, known as a Local Ideas Festival (LIF).
View or download our Program at a Glance Flyer.

Scholars have researched and addressed a diverse range of issues unique to their communities, such as mental health awareness and advocacy, civic engagement, STEM education, literacy, environmental justice, and refugee and immigrant rights and inclusion.

The results

Scholars join the program with different lived experiences, strengths, areas for growth, levels of demonstrated leadership, and unique passions and interests. This diversity is one of the greatest strengths and learning opportunities with the program.

Throughout the year-long experience, Scholars build capacities associated with values-based leadership, social-emotional learning, and social innovation. Bezos Scholars Program outcomes are aligned with the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership—a quantitative research program that examines how to leverage learning and development both inside and outside of traditional classroom environments.

See our Learning Outcomes

Second year community change project, OCAD, pose together during their local ideas festival.

Learn more about the Bezos Scholars!