Bezos Scholars Program Announces 2023 Cohort

By Molly Pencke, Senior Program Manager

2023 Bezos Scholars Banner

The Bezos Scholars Program (BSP) is excited to announce its 2023 cohort of Scholars! The cohort’s 13 teams, made up of rising high school seniors and educators from across the U.S. and Africa, will design and lead projects to foster change in their communities.

The Bezos Family Foundation launched the Scholars program in 2005 to provide young people with a platform to design solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing their local areas. As in previous years, the applicant pool was extremely competitive. U.S. applicants must attend a public school with a free and reduced lunch rate of 30% or higher to increase equity of opportunity. African applicants must attend the African Leadership Academy, located in Johannesburg, South Africa, which has been in partnership with the program since 2011. Scholars are selected based on their commitment to education, demonstrated leadership abilities, willingness to embrace challenges, and desire to create positive change in their communities.

The program begins with virtual community building and identifying Scholar's sense of purpose before embarking on an all-expenses paid trip to the Aspen Ideas Festival, in Aspen, Colorado. While there, Scholars engage in leadership training, panel discussions and exclusive conversations with many of the world’s most acclaimed global leaders. This experience sets the stage for the challenge ahead: launching sustainable community change projects to transform their communities.

“The 2023 cohort of Bezos Scholars are an impressive and inspiring group of student leaders and supportive educator advocates from nine U.S. states and four African countries,” said Molly Pencke, Senior Program Manager at the Bezos Family Foundation.

We are excited to support, learn from, and work alongside such an energized and passionate cohort as they each build a team to design and launch their Community Change Project. In these trying and complex times, we need them now more than ever.

Molly Pencke, Senior Program Manager at the Bezos Family Foundation

For their participation in the program, Scholars receive more than 40 hours of leadership programming, access to Scholar-only notable speaker sessions and workshops with inspirational leaders, and $1,000 in seed funding to launch their projects which they can reapply for annually. Students also receive free one-on-one college advising and upon program completion, access to unique opportunities offered through the Scholar Alumni Network.

The topics and themes of Scholar projects are as diverse as the Scholars themselves and designed to align Scholars’ passions with an existing community need. Many projects address the climate crisis, gender and education equality, financial literacy, and advocating for increased access and more opportunities for historically oppressed and underrepresented communities. Since the program’s inception, nearly 200 projects have been launched by Scholars.

The Bezos Family Foundation is honored to welcome the following Scholars

Student Scholar Aayushi Garg and Educator Sean Lewis

Granada Hills Charter High School, Los Angeles, CA

Student Scholar Rithika Sivapokaran and Educator Emily Rohme

Patchogue-Medford High School, Medford, NY

Student Scholar Amanda Liu and Educator William Truong

Valencia High School, Placentia, CA

Student Scholar Brendan Salisbury and Educator Victoria Muñoz

Barry Goldwater High School, Phoenix, AZ

Student Scholar Breanna Wollman and Educator Kerry Konda

Aberdeen Central High School, Aberdeen, SD

Student Scholar David Muñoz and Educator Aimee Nunez

McAllen Memorial High School - Lamar Academy, McAllen, TX

Student Scholar Dyuthi Aryasomayajula and Educator Daniel Giddings

Washtenaw International High School, Ypsilanti, MI

Student Scholar Jessie Jingqi Lin and Educator James Wilson

Los Osos High School, Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Student Scholar Kim Cortes-Martinez and Educator Cyrus Harshfield

Gresham High School, Gresham, OR

Student Scholar Priyanka Gupta and Educator Mary Bishop

Tuscarora High School, Frederick, MD

Student Scholar Victoria Myers and Educator Rhonda Craven

School for the Talented and Gifted, Dallas, TX

Student Scholar Yordanos Lemma and Educator Carmina Taylor

North Penn High School, Lansdale, Pennsylvania

Student Scholars Ahmed Kabuya, Chiagoziem Ikeyi, Kenesa Tamiru Huluka, Nassiratou Djibo and Educator Oluwabusola Oni

African Leadership Academy, Johannesburg, South Africa, Scholars representing their home countries of Ethiopia, Zambia, Nigeria, and Niger.

To see full Scholar biographies and photos, please visit the Meet the Scholars page of the Bezos Scholars Program website.