Unlocking the power of youth leadership since 2005.
Inspiration, experiences and resources to launch lives of leadership.
The Bezos Scholars Program began in 2005 when our founders, Jackie and Mike Bezos, attended the Aspen Ideas Festival, a premiere gathering of leaders from around the globe, and wondered, “Where are the young people?”
Since then, the program has evolved from a way to include outstanding students at the festival to a rich, year-long leadership development program spanning the U.S. and Africa—one that not only delivers specific and measurable learning outcomes, but also amplifies youth voice and action by supporting scholars as they produce real-world projects aimed at positive change.
Today, the program is distinguished by its small and intimate cohort of students; its inclusion of educator scholars nominated by students themselves; its track record as an incubator for ideas that improve communities; its capacity for connecting participants with thought leaders; and its basis in the most up-to-date science on how young people learn and what they need to thrive.
17 students. 13 educators. Unlimited potential.
Each year we select students from eligible U.S. public high schools and an educator they nominate.
Five students and an educator from the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa, also join the program, and are selected through the Academy’s own process.
After a week immersed among noted leaders and thinkers at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Scholars return home to take part in ongoing leadership development and create a community change project that makes a positive difference in their communities. Throughout the program year, they also receive free, expert college advising and online tutoring to help them pursue the next step in their education.
After their program year, Bezos Scholars go on to higher education, travel, volunteer, serve in internships and launch initiatives, organizations and businesses. Whatever their path, they are active, engaged global citizens taking action for the greater good.
Learn more about the Bezos Scholars Program by downloading our info sheet.
Our Core Beliefs
We believe all young people:
Are exceptional and have the potential to be leaders.
Need to feel a sense of belonging and purpose to learn, grow, be brave and bold.
Deserve opportunities to generate creative ideas, lead and act on issues they care about.
Learn most effectively when engaged in programs backed by the science of learning.
Benefit when supportive, caring adults advocate for and support youth-led ideas and initiatives.
Should have the opportunity to collaborate with diverse communities and to connect across differences.
Where we stand on equal opportunity and inclusion.
Scholars join the program with different experiences, strengths, areas for growth, levels of demonstrated leadership and unique passions and interests. This diversity is one of our program’s greatest strengths and offers some of our Scholars’ most indelible learning experiences.
We firmly believe in equal opportunity and value the importance of each person as an individual. To that end, we prohibit discrimination against any current or prospective applicant or selected Bezos Scholar who meets the program’s eligibility requirements on the basis of race, religion, creed, color, national origin, citizenship, sex, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, political ideology, the presence of any physical, sensory, or mental disabilities, or any legally protected status. We expect our Scholars to strongly commit to our anti-discrimination practices as well.
For persons with disabilities: If you believe that you need an accommodation to apply or participate in the program, please contact us.
A program built on science.
Like all Bezos Family Foundation programs, the Bezos Scholars Program is grounded in the latest understanding of what young people need to learn, thrive and lead. The program’s structure and content are all designed to capitalize on adolescents’ remarkable capacity for learning, with an emphasis on supporting students’ evolving need for autonomy, mastery, contribution and identity-building.
Meet our Scholars
Bezos Scholars are united by a shared passion for making a difference and a desire to lead change. Scholars seek new challenges and respond with creativity, courage and commitment.
Meet our alumni
Bezos Scholars go on to pursue a wide range of interests and endeavors, personally and professionally. They stay connected long after their program year through our active alumni network. You can read some of their stories below.
Meet our partners
The Bezos Scholarship Program is an indelible experience thanks in part to our close collaboration with several longstanding partner organizations, including:
The Aspen Institute
Our partner since we launched the program in 2005, The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit committed to realizing a free, just and equitable society. The Aspen Institute fosters dialogue, leadership and action to help solve the greatest challenges of our time. Bezos Scholars work especially closely with the Institute’s Youth Leadership Program and launch their year as scholars by spending a week at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
African Leadership Academy
Located in Johannesburg, South Africa, ALA draws students from across the continent and seeks to transform Africa by developing a powerful network of young leaders who will work together to address the continent’s greatest challenges. Since 2011, a small cohort of Bezos Scholars has been drawn from the Academy in addition to public high schools in the U.S. Each year, the ALA Scholar cohort hosts the dynamic annual bringing together outstanding young people who explore ideas, build skills and make connections for how to better meet some of South Africa’s most urgent socioeconomic challenges.
The Aspen Challenge
We created this program with The Aspen Institute in 2013 to bring Bezos Scholars-style leadership development to even more students and educators by meeting them where they are. Each year, the Aspen Challenge partners with a new U.S. school district, engaging 20 schools who select teams of students and educator coaches to develop new approaches to tough local problems. The aim? To build generations of engaged and equitable leaders.
Questions? Ask our team.
Contact us at Scholars@bezosfamilyfoundation.org.