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Youth Leadership Programs Manager
Community & News

Announcing 2017 Bezos Scholar Cohort

The Bezos Scholars Program is celebrating its thirteenth year at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado this June. Thirty exceptional high school students and educators from across the U.S. and the African Leadership Academy have been selected for the 2017 cohort.

Founded in 2005, the Bezos Family Foundation annually selects rising seniors and their educators to participate in a year-long leadership development program. The program begins with an all-expenses paid trip to the Aspen Ideas Festival. After attending the Festival, Scholars return home to organize their own community change projects, known as Local Ideas Festivals (LIFs). Those Scholars selected from the African Leadership Academy will be organizing the seventh annual South African Ideas Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Topics and themes of community change projects are as diverse as the Scholars themselves, and are most successful in taking root when Scholars’ passions intersect with an existing community need. LIFs tend towards the arts, global issues, bridge building, the environment, education, and health—although there are always new ideas! Since the program’s inception, roughly 45,000 attendees have supported these change projects.

Scholars are selected based on demonstrated leadership abilities, willingness to embrace learning for learning's sake, and the desire to create lasting change in their communities. “We are so pleased to see the caliber and breadth of the work these young people have already done in their communities, and look forward to seeing where it will go in the coming year,” says Nicole Hanson, Youth Leadership Manager at the Bezos Family Foundation.

The Bezos Family Foundation is honored to welcome the following 2017 Scholars

  • Ibraheem Khan: Northside College Preparatory High School: Chicago, IL
  • Amal Altareb and educator Mary McIntosh: Memphis Central High School: Memphis, TN
  • Isaac Spokes and educator Regina O’Neal: Baltimore Polytechnic Institute: Baltimore, MD
  • Kate Atschinow and educator Donna Martino: Highland Park High School: Highland Park, NJ
  • Taiwo Odunowo and educator Hooman Behzadpour: Orange High School: Orange, NJ
  • Caitlyn Hess and educator Rebecca Ugander: Wheat Ridge High School: Wheat Ridge, CO
  • Andrew Altman and educator Jennifer Gaither: Baltimore City College High School: Baltimore, MD
  • Mulki Hagi and educator Danielle Wong: Deering High School: Portland, ME
  • Eric Tran and educator Chellyn Castro Boquiren: The Preuss School UCSD: San Diego, CA
  • Felix De Simone and educator Richard Eberly: New Buffalo High School: Sawyer, MI
  • Samantha Casas and educator Ann Marano: Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School: Dallas, TX
  • Kaetlyn Rodriquez and educator Susan Brakel: California Academy of Math and Sciences: Bellflower, CA
  • Felix Morara: African Leadership Academy: Johannesburg, South Africa, Kenya
  • Diana Spencer: African Leadership Academy: Johannesburg, South Africa, Senegal
  • Oritsetimeyin Enemigin: African Leadership Academy: Johannesburg, South Africa, Nigeria
  • Winnie Msamba: African Leadership Academy: Johannesburg, South Africa, Tanzania
  • Chernor Diallo: African Leadership Academy: Johannesburg, South Africa, Liberia
  • Kim Hoffman: Educator: African Leadership Academy: Johannesburg, South Africa
Contributed by
Youth Leadership Programs Manager
Community & News