A year that shapes you for life.
You’ll gain experience, expand what you know, and encounter people, places, and ideas that will inspire, challenge and support you as you help change your community for the better.
Join a growing community
For many Scholars, one of the greatest benefits of the program is connecting to a group of like-minded-yet-diverse people from across the United States and Africa who are passionate about changing their communities for the better. Bonds forged through the program can be strong; participants often develop deep and lasting friendships.
Annually, Scholars participate in virtual sessions twice a month on Saturdays to accommodate student and educator schedules. A couple months into the program, Scholars meet in Aspen for an unforgettable week together before returning home to begin their Community Change Project. Below, you’ll find a big picture overview of the year-long Scholar program.
End of student’s junior year. Students and educators (Scholars) complete onboarding materials and participate in engaging virtual sessions with their cohort and staff to build relationships, community and norm on roles and program expectations.
Summer before student’s senior year. Scholars travel to Aspen to spend an amazing week together and attend the Aspen Ideas Festival, meet with and be inspired by innovative global leaders, and participate in Scholar only speaker sessions and leadership workshops.
Fall of student’s senior year. Continue planning and developing your project. Participate in virtual sessions and workshops with diverse speakers representing different areas of expertise related to leadership skill-building and project development and begin planning a presentation to showcase and celebrate your project.
Winter of student’s senior year. Begin planning a presentation to showcase and celebrate your project and start building a team of youth and community members to help you and complete a grant proposal to earn $1,000 in seed funding to launch your project.
February of student’s senior year. All Scholar projects will launch by February at the latest. Project activities may continue until high school graduation. Scholars continue participating in monthly sessions and carrying our project activities and tasks.
March and April of student’s senior year. Scholars reflect on their year, celebrate learning, plan how to carry forward skills they built and are welcomed into the alumni network.
Aspen Ideas Festival
Elevate your point of view.
The Bezos Scholars year kicks off with an all-expenses-paid trip to the Aspen Ideas Festival, held annually in late June in Aspen, Colorado. There, 8,000 feet above sea level, in one of the United States’ most spectacular settings, Scholars attend seven action-packed days of talks, events and interactive experiences, including Scholar-exclusive experiences with some of the most provocative writers, artists, entrepreneurs and leaders shaping the world today.
Recent presenters at the festival include New York Times columnist David Brooks, former U.S. Secretaries of State Madeline Albright and Colin Powell, writer and actor Anna Deavere-Smith, and psychologist, professor, author, and founder of Character Lab Angela Duckworth.
Scholars divide their time between taking in talks and events and participating in workshops and other activities. There’s also plenty of time to connect and have fun!
Listen, reflect, discuss, do
Throughout the year, Scholars take part in dynamic workshops designed to spark personal reflection and growth, hone leadership skills and inform their Community Change Projects. Workshops and presenters vary by year. Recent workshop partners have included:
Storytellers for Change
Sessions by Storytellers for Change on how to use personal narratives to connect across differences and build engagement.
A series by national nonprofit nXu on helping Scholars define their purpose and translate it into a Community Change Project.
Instruction from nonprofit design studio Ideo.org in developing a research plan built on insight, ideas and engagement from the community being served.
Learning by doing: Community Change Projects
Community Change Projects are the core of the Bezos Scholars Program and part of what makes us different from other leadership experiences. Every Bezos Scholar creates and implements a project that raises awareness and mobilizes action to address a need in their hometown. Scholars build a team to support their project with a vision of making a difference not only during their Scholar year, but for years to come; projects are designed to be sustainable and many past projects have been operating for five years or more.
The Bezos Scholars Program provides a framework that guides and supports Scholars through every step of their projects, from initial concept development through launch, implementation and evaluation. Scholars get ongoing coaching and support as well as $1,000 in funding based on grant proposals they write and which projects can reapply for annually.
Community Change Projects since 2005
An inside look
2019 Scholar Sarah Tran offers a video tour of the Aspen Ideas Festival.