Bezos Scholars Program Announces 2024 Cohort

By Molly Pencke, Senior Program Manager

5 min read


Today, the Bezos Scholars Program announces its 20th cohort of Bezos Scholars! The 2024 cohort’s 13 teams, comprised of rising high school seniors and an educator they nominated, come from across the U.S. and Africa.

In 2005, the Bezos Family Foundation launched the Scholars program. This year-long leadership development program challenges participants to work with their communities to design and implement a Community Change Project. The program delivers specific and measurable learning outcomes while amplifying youth voice and action by supporting scholars as they produce real-world projects aimed at positive change.

As in previous years, selected Scholars participated in a competitive selection process in which a committee of youth development, education professionals and BSP alums selected them. Scholars are chosen based on their intellectual curiosity and commitment to education, demonstrated leadership and community engagement, and readiness and capacity to engage in the program.

To increase equity of opportunity and to bring Scholar projects to communities that would benefit from more resources, U.S. applicants must attend a public school with a free and reduced lunch rate of 30% or higher. African applicants must attend the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa, which has partnered with the program since 2011. Students who apply also must nominate a willing and supportive adult from their school to serve as their Scholar educator, who acts as their mentor and fully participates in the program.

The mostly virtual program begins with building a sense of belonging for participants before embarking on an all-expenses paid trip to the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado. There, students engage in leadership workshops, activities and exclusive conversations with diverse global leaders. This experience is meant to provide inspiration and kick-start ideas as Scholar teams embark on exploring, developing and implementing sustainable Community Change Projects.

Every year, student and educator teams produce innovative ideas, persevere through challenges and collaborate with their communities to create incredible projects that make a meaningful difference. Education and opportunities for youth to lead are vital to improving societal issues, and we cannot wait to see what these Scholars do.

Molly Pencke, Senior Program Manager at the Bezos Family Foundation

For their participation in the program, Scholars join a diverse and talented cohort community of 30 students and educators who engage in more than 45 hours of virtual leadership skill-building sessions and earn $1,000 in funding to launch their projects, which teams can reapply for annually. Students also receive free personalized college advising and, upon program completion, have access to unique opportunities offered through the Scholar Alum 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 equity, and financial literacy and advocate for historically marginalized and underrepresented communities to increase access to opportunities. Since the program’s inception, Scholars have launched 215 projects, and there are over 465 alums in the network.

The Bezos Family Foundation is honored to welcome the following Scholars

Student Scholars Abdelkarim Ben Fraj, Amani Nyonyoozi Tumusiime, Helena Appakouo Dogo, Kashimani Simasiku, Tatenda Shamiso Mazambani and Educator Nandi Mgwaba representing their home countries of South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda, Côte d'Ivoire, Zambia and Zimbabwe. | African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa

Student Scholar Kamar Sati and educator Virginia Brown Acevez | Champlin Park High School in Champlin, Minnesota

Student Scholar Brissia Lopez Castro and educator Evelyn Pearcy | Baltimore City College High School in Baltimore, Maryland

Student Scholar Kahlial Lofquist and educator Anne Warrington | De La Salle North Catholic High School in Portland, Oregon

Student Scholar Evan Negron and educator Lawrence Bamberger | Freeport High School in Freeport, New York

Student Scholar Angelica Mejia and educator Carla Rodas-Piña | John I. Leonard High School in Greenacres, Florida

Student Scholar Jenny Au and educator Anna Park | Northside College Preparatory High School in Chicago, Illinois

Student Scholar Lizzie Casaleno and educator Amanda Xiques | Pebblebrook High School in Austell, Georgia

Student Scholar Rayana Ba and educator Sundoes Elbery | Ronald E. Mcnair Academic High School in Jersey City, New Jersey

Student Scholar Amy Zhou and educator Dennis Lindsay | School for Advanced Studies – Wolfson Campus in Miami, Florida

Student Scholar Albert Westbrook and educator Julie Carver | School of Science and Engineering in Dallas, Texas

Student Scholar Olivia Farmer and educator Yvette Jonna-Moore | Wayne Memorial High School in Westland, Michigan

Student Scholar Hanna Corona and educator Daniel Thalkar | Woodrow Wilson High School in Los Angeles, California

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