How many Bezos Scholars are selected each year?
Thirty scholars are selected each year, including:
12 U.S.-based high school students and a nominated educator from each of their schools.
Five students and one educator from the African Leadership Academy.
How are Scholars selected?
We utilize a volunteer selection Committee which is composed of members who reflect applicants that apply and who are leaders in their fields of education, youth leadership and development, science and the arts. Some members are former Bezos Scholars! They all share a strong commitment to supporting and championing young leaders and are trained on how to review and score applications using our selection criteria and rubric.
Applications completed by our deadline are reviewed by staff to confirm they are eligible and fully complete.
Round One Review. Each application is reviewed three times by three different selection committee members, working independently from one another.
Staff reviews applicant data and round one scores and comments from committee members to select semifinalists.
Semifinalists are notified and asked to complete the below additional application items by a deadline before being invited to a phone interview.
Re-affirm their and their educator nominee’s interest and commitment in being considered as a Bezos Scholars.
Verify their parent/guardian’s support of their consideration as a Scholar as well as their contact information.
Engage their principal or vice principal complete to a short Principal Support Form that ensures school leadership recommends and supports their and their educator nominee’s participation.
Round Two Review. Semifinalists are scheduled for their interview. A subset of selection committee members and program staff review assigned semi-finalist applications and conduct virtual interviews.
Staff reviews applicant data and round two scores and comments from committee members that take into account semifinalist applications and interviews to select 12 finalists and two alternates, who are on standby in case one of the finalists becomes unable to participate in the final stages of selection.
Nominated educators of finalists are invited for a brief virtual interview with program staff. Student finalist acceptance into the program is contingent on our interview and acceptance of their educator nominee.
After the educator nominee interview is completed and confirmed, official Bezos Scholars are officially confirmed and onboarding materials are sent.
What does the college advising support provided to student Scholars include?
Each Student Scholar is provided free, individual virtual advising with our informed, skilled and supportive college advisor. Our advisor has experience working with students from all over the world, with various backgrounds and resources, to help ensure that they have diverse opportunities to access and obtain higher education. Here is a preview of what the college advisor can offer which is specific to and curated for each Scholar:
From the start of each Scholar’s year to right before high school graduation, our advisor works with each Scholar to build a trusting relationship and learn their needs and goals. This includes working with other supporters (i.e., parents/guardians, educator Scholar, school staff, mentors, etc.) who are also invested in the student's success and education.
One-on-one sessions can include anything related to applying to higher education opportunities: forming a balanced college list, essay review, college, financial aid, and scholarship applications as well as the decision-making processes.
A series of optional small group webinars are offered as “crash courses” focused on different facets of the application process most needed by the cohort.
A personalized Letter of Recommendation is provided for each student, from the co-founders of the Foundation and program, that highlights what the Bezos Scholars Program is, what the student is planning for their community change project, and notes key leadership traits, strengths, and accomplishments.
What does a successful community change project look like?
Success can look different for each Scholar—just as the community needs and things Scholars are passionate about making a positive impact on are also diverse and different.
Part of the program’s planning and project development process engages Scholars in workshops and activities that help them investigate needs in their community with diverse stakeholders of that community. Scholars work with teams they create, define and set their own goals, choose a project scope and approach, and determine the meaningful impact they want their project to make.
Scholars are supported to create sustainable projects designed to grow and evolve year after year. Check out our Community Change Projects webpage (www.bezosscholars.org/ccp/) to learn more and see examples.
How do the students and educators work together on designing a project?
Each project is student-led, inclusive and fosters a sense of community and shared leadership. Students and educators function as a collaborative team throughout the year and work alongside each other on Scholar opportunities, activities and commitments as well as project ideation, creation and implementation.
Scholars build a team of students, supportive adults, community members and partners to support the creation and execution of their project. Educators play a special role as mentors, advocates and allies to students on the team and helping with the project. This can include helping to navigate school administration and policies, engaging partners, especially those in/from traditionally adult-centered spaces, advocating for the project and its needs or promoting and providing support with outreach. The educator is a cheerleader, helper and sounding board for students on the team. Educators are asked to recognize and assess when they may need to step back so students and youth can more fully step into their leadership.
How do Scholars receive funding to launch their Community Change Project?
In the fall of their senior year, Scholars complete a grant proposal to earn a $1,000 grant award from the Foundation. With support from program staff, their educator and team members they have started to engage, Scholars go through an editing and revision process before submitting their best work. Once grant proposals are accepted, a funding agreement is sent to their fiscal sponsor – either their school, PTA/PTSA/Booster Club or a nonprofit or government entity that has agreed to partner with them. Scholars complete a final report at the close of their Scholar year and can also choose to seek additional funding from their community, including in-kind donations.
To support project sustainability— project continuation beyond its founding year—Scholar projects that complete grant deliverables are eligible for continued funding for up to three years.