Meet the 2019 Bezos Scholars!

Application Information

The Bezos Scholars Program application opens October 21, 2019 and closes at midnight Friday, January 31, 2020. Don’t wait until the last minute to apply! Applicants need time and input from others in order to submit a competitive, thoughtful application.

The application is open to U.S. students who are currently high school juniors attending a public high school with a 30% or greater free and reduced lunch rate. We encourage talented, driven, smart, and compassionate young people to apply.

Please review detailed eligibility criteria below. Don't hesitate to reach out to scholars@bezosfamilyfoundation.org at any time with questions and for support.

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Become a Bezos Scholar

Bezos Scholars hail from rural Texas, Morocco, the Bronx, Zimbabwe—and everywhere in between. What they share is a rich diversity of experience, thought, and passion for making a difference.

School Criteria

Applicant's school must:

  • Be a public high school in the United States (charter, magnet schools, and tribal schools through the Bureau of Indian Education are also eligible).
  • Have a 30% or greater free and reduced lunch rate.
  • To encourage equity of opportunity, students that attend schools who have had a Scholar in the last two years are not eligible to apply. Click here for a full list of 2020 application cycle ineligible schools.

    Applicant must:

    • Be a junior during the current academic year and a senior the following academic year.
    • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or have received DACA status.
    • Not attend one of the ineligible schools listed above.
    • Have a proven track record of demonstrated leadership in their school and/or community.
    • Have taken and received scores for at least one of these tests: PSAT, SAT, ACT, or ACT Aspire.
    • Be enrolled in, or have taken, one or more Advanced Placement (AP) classes, International Baccalaureate (IB) classes, or college-level courses.
    • Be available to fully participate in the year-long program and attend all dates for the Aspen Ideas Festival trip in Aspen, Colorado: June 27 - July 3, 2020. We apologize in advance, but no exceptions for late arrival or early departure (barring an emergency) can be made.
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Student and Educator Program Commitment:

As part of the application, students must nominate an educator from their school to participate with them. This Educator Nominee must be able to commit to participating in the year-long program from May 2020 - May 2021. This includes active participation in and commitment to:

  • Monthly hour-long leadership webinars.
  • Trip to Aspen, Colorado June 27 - July 3, 2020 to attend the prestigious Aspen Ideas Festival. If a student or their educator cannot attend all dates of the trip, they are ineligible to apply.
  • Monthly, or as needed, check-in phone/video calls with other Scholars and the Bezos Scholars Program team.
  • Engaging their community in identifying a need and how to make a meaningful impact on that issue.
  • Building a team to lead the development and launch of a community change project.
  • Submitting a Grant Proposal, Progress Report, and Final Report related to the community change project and other funding deliverables identified by the program.

We estimate that students and educators dedicate 5 - 20 hours per month on program-related activities throughout the year.

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The Application Process

To start an application, students must first affirm eligibility and create a profile by clicking the Apply Now button at the top of the page. A profile allows you to save and return to your application before the deadline. Once you submit your application, it can no longer be edited. Here’s what is included in the application:

Part I:

Your Story requires basic demographic information, school details, coursework, cumulative GPA, standardized test scores, employment and/or extra-curricular activities, and four written essay responses.

Part II:


Your Support requires applicants to invite and provide the name and email of their principal, educator nominee, and one personal recommender. The people identified should be prepared to support the applicant in applying for this opportunity, and in being a Scholar during the year-long program.

When their contact information is submitted in the application, they will receive an invitation email with a link to an online form. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the principal, educator, and recommender submit their forms by the application deadline.

Here are more details on the support forms required in the application:

  • Principal: An applicant’s school principal or vice principal must complete the Principal Support Form, with information about the applicant, their school, and their educator nominee.
  • Educator: An applicant needs to identify and nominate a trusted educator from their school who must complete the Educator Nomination Form. This educator will travel to Aspen with them, participate fully in the year-long program, and collaborate as a key team member and adult ally to help develop and launch the student-led community change project.
    • The Educator Nominee needs to be a current staff, school partner staff, or volunteer working at the applicant’s school. Principals, Vice Principals, and other school staff that are not currently teaching are also eligible to be nominated.
    • The Educator Nominee should be someone the applicant connects and works well with, who is supportive of student-led projects, provides constructive feedback, is a trusted ally to students, and understands and can commit to the program requirements.
    • Applicants should ask their educator nominee before sending them an invitation to be their nominee and should also solicit their principal and/or vice principal for feedback and support on their educator nomination.
    • Educators must attend all program trip dates in Aspen and must plan on teaching at their current school for the following academic year.
  • Recommender: An applicant will need to identify one person to submit a recommendation on their behalf.
    • Consider asking someone from your school, your faith community or place of worship, a coach, mentor, employer, or community member.
    • Recommendations cannot come from a family member, friend, the principal or vice principal of your school (depending on which one completes the Principal Support Form), or the nominated educator.
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Download program flyer

Descargue el folleto del programa

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The Selection Process

A selection committee comprised of a diverse group of leaders in education, youth leadership and development, science, the arts, and Bezos Scholars alumni evaluates and recommends candidates based on:

Leadership Qualities

  • Demonstrated leadership and civic engagement
  • Identified leadership traits & skills
  • Collaboration
  • Independent thought and ideas
  • Intrinsic motivation

Readiness to Engage in the Program

  • Social-emotional maturity
  • Expression and listening skills
  • Readiness & capacity to grow

Academic Rigor

  • Rigor of coursework
  • Cumulative GPA
  • Test score of at least one college admittance test requirement (PSAT, SAT, ACT, or ACT Aspire)

While academic rigor is a qualifying requirement, we recognize that there are many factors that can affect a student’s success beyond grades, GPA, classes, and test scores. If an applicant has experienced any academic challenges, we encourage and advise them to share this in their essay responses and include evidence on how they are actively addressing them.

We also recognize that some schools do not, or cannot offer AP, IB, or college level courses. In these cases applicants can submit courses taken outside of their school, at other learning institutions, or online. If advanced coursework is not offered at an applicant’s school and an applicant therefore has had limited exposure to this, we advise them to share that in their essay responses.

Student Written Responses Essay Questions

  • Strong competency of written responses that demonstrate complete and supported ideas, statements, and actions that show leadership, creativity, humility, and compassion.

While student written responses are an integral part of an application review process, we recognize being an English Language Learner may affect English writing competencies. We encourage and advise applicants to address anything affecting their ability to craft and write their essay responses in their application, with the emphasis that they do not have to disclose anything they are not comfortable disclosing.

Principal Support, Educator Nomination, Recommendation

  • Enthusiastic support and encouragement for the applicant with insights on the applicant’s areas of achievement, academic rigor, reliance, ability to face and learn from adversity, and/or leadership in the community.
  • Supportive evidence and multiple tangible examples of applicant’s maturity, ability to work well with others, and why this applicant is ready to become a Bezos Scholar.

We seek passionate and intellectually curious young people who are rising leaders in their schools and communities. We value cultural, racial, socioeconomic, geographic, and gender diversity among applicants and seek to select a cohort that reflects the diversity across the U.S.

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This was truly a life-changing experience. I left Aspen knowing I now have a family that will always support me, and feeling confident that my fellow Scholars are making a tangible difference in the world. – Eric Tran, 2017 Bezos Scholar