Applications to the Bezos Scholars Program opened on November 30, 2023, and closed on January 25, 2024. Candidates are notified of their status by early March and Scholars are officially selected by April, starting the program in May.

Applications reopen annually every fall. If you have any questions about the application process or your status, please email us at scholars@bezosfamilyfoundation.org.

Eligibility requirements for U.S. student Scholars

To be considered, U.S. students must:

  • Attend an eligible* public high school in the United States that currently has a 30% or greater overall free and reduced lunch rate.

  • Be a junior at the time they are applying to the program.

  • Be enrolled in or have taken one or more advanced course during their high school career. This includes Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and college-level courses.

  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or have received DACA status.

  • Be available to fully participate in the year-long program and attend all dates for the Aspen Ideas Festival trip in Aspen, Colorado, slated for June 22 - June 28, 2024.

  • Nominate an educator, a willing and supportive adult from their school to serve as a mentor, who will fully participate in the program and go on the trip to Aspen with them.

*Students currently attending a school a Scholar was selected from in 2022 or 2023 are not eligible to apply for the upcoming cohort. See the list of current ineligible schools. This policy encourages equity of opportunity, allowing us to bring the Scholar experience and the Community Change Projects Scholars create to more schools and geographical locations. The program not only supports and serves individual students and educators, but also brings opportunities and resources to the school ecosystem they are part of.

What we look for in student Scholars

Successful Bezos Scholars are passionate, intellectually curious young people who are rising leaders in their schools and communities. They are interested in personal and intellectual growth, practice reflection, demonstrate a strong work ethic and communicate clearly. We favor students who engage with their communities, pursue their passions in substantive ways and are interested in serving others. Competitive applicants show us their commitment to both learning and equity. Standout candidates articulate how our program would help them achieve their personal and professional goals.

We also value diversity among scholars, including cultural, racial, socioeconomic, geographic and gender diversity. We aim each year to build a cohort of Scholars that reflects the diversity of the United States and Africa.

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A serious commitment with lasting rewards

Bezos Scholars are all-in and hands-on. A Bezos Scholar year is filled with focused work and extraordinary experiences. You’ll hit the ground running by building connections with your fellow Scholars and other fascinating people at the Aspen Ideas Festival in June. From there, you’ll stay engaged every step of the way, right up through the launch of your Community Change Project. In the process, you’ll think, learn and grow in new ways.

Bezos Scholars and educator scholars are committing to:

Dedicate 10-20 hours per month

This generally includes up to two virtual 2.5-hour workshops per month on Saturdays to accommodate student and educator schedules along with monthly activities, team meetings and assignments. As the year progresses, Community Change Project work becomes increasingly self-directed.

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Experience the Aspen Ideas Festival

Explore and engage with your cohort in Aspen, Colorado, for a full week at the end of June (with all expenses paid for students and educators by the program).

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Engage with community

Engage diverse community stakeholders to gather insight and input on community issues and specific needs stemming from those issues to inform Community Change Project topic.

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Build a team

From your community, build a diverse and talented team of students and adult supporters, practicing shared leadership to successfully develop and launch a sustainable Community Change Project.

Scholar rewards

There’s no experience like the Bezos Scholars Program—a transformative, year-long, no-cost leadership development program that amplifies youth voice, collaboration and action so young people with passion can start making a difference today. Though we do not offer financial scholarships for higher education, Scholars:

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Form Lasting Friendships Across the Globe

Join a diverse and talented cohort community comprised of 30 students and educators from across the U.S. and Africa and upon completion of the program, join the extensive Alumni Network.

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Attend the Aspen Ideas Festival

Experience an all-expenses-paid trip to Aspen, Colorado to attend the Aspen Ideas Festival. Hear from global leaders and bring your voice to the conversation.

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Receive Leadership Training

Engage in 45+ hours of virtual leadership skill-building sessions. These sessions foster a connected community and are a chance to share challenges and learning while engaging in workshops designed to support their project development.

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Experience Personal Coaching and Support

Participate in coaching with Bezos Scholar staff to support your leadership and Community Change Project journey.

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Access College Advising

Receive FREE personalized help identifying and creating school lists, writing essays, and applying to financial aid and scholarship opportunities while also receiving a personalized letter of recommendation.

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Community Change Project Funding

Earn $1,000 in financial support to help launch and sustain Community Change Projects. Scholar-founded projects are eligible to re-apply for funding annually.

How to apply

The basic steps for applying to become a Bezos Scholar are outlined below. The Bezos Scholars Program firmly believes in equal opportunity and values the importance of each person as an individual. Read our full Equal Opportunity Statement.

1

Explore

Is this the program for you? Explore our website, read program stories, and watch videos on our YouTube channel to get a deeper understanding of program impact, Scholar commitments and Community Change Projects. Then, be sure to confirm your eligibility.

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2

Use Our Guide

For comprehensive information about our application and detailed instructions, download our Application Guide to better prepare and proactively gather needed information.

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3

Complete the Application

Once the application opens, complete the online application hosted on the Kaleidoscope website, linked below. You’ll be asked to provide information about yourself, your school, academic performance and leadership experience which includes recording a short video and writing three short essays.

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4

Nominate an Educator

Part of the application requires that you nominate an educator—supportive adult from your school—that would fully participate alongside you throughout the program as your Scholar teammate. They are required to complete an Educator Nominee Form as part of your application.

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Celebrate!

Completing an application takes intentional effort, thoughtfulness and perseverance and is a huge accomplishment. Celebrate yourself and those who supported you in applying, especially your educator nominee.

Our selection criteria

Using a holistic selection process that considers multiple aspects of a candidate, our selection committee evaluates and scores candidates based on three main criteria:

Intellectual curiosity and commitment to education.

Bezos Scholars are strong students. They have taken challenging classes and have generally performed exceptionally well. Scholars are also intellectually curious. They strive to push the boundaries of their learning in and out of the classroom.

We recognize that many factors affect a student’s success. If you’ve had academic challenges while in high school, share more about them in your application, and tell us about how you persevered in spite of them.

Demonstrated leadership and community engagement.

We seek passionate young people who are rising leaders in their schools and communities and who inspire and motivate those around them through their actions and commitment. Bezos Scholars are independent, creative thinkers. They enjoy converting ideas into action. They lead with humility, compassion and sense of purpose to help others and the world around them.

Readiness and capacity to engage in the program.

Bezos Scholars are excited to take their skills and community involvement to the next level. They are able to balance community engagement, academics, extracurricular activities and family commitments. Scholars generally employ strong presentation and public speaking skills; they can summarize thoughts and ideas while being authentically themselves, even if speaking in front of others is not in their immediate comfort zone. They thrive in collaborative settings; they enjoy working with and learning from others. And they enjoy trying new things and challenging pre-conceived notions of what youth can do and what they personally can do to make a difference.

About our selection committee

Our volunteer Selection Committee members are leaders in the fields of education, youth leadership and development, science and the arts. Some members are former Bezos Scholars. All committee members share a strong commitment to supporting and championing young leaders. This story shares more about our Selection Committee, some of its members, and what they look for in applicants. Go to our FAQ page to read more about the Scholar selection process.