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Application Information

Applications to apply for the 2021 cohort of Bezos Scholars will open on October 21, 2020 and the deadline to apply will be January 11, 2021. Generally, semi-finalists will be notified by mid-February and those ultimately selected by mid-April. Public announcements of newly selected Scholar cohorts are shared on our website in early May.

We encourage talented, driven, smart, and compassionate young people to apply. Please review detailed eligibility criteria below and reach out to at any time with questions or for support.

Email this Opportunity

To send an email inviting someone to apply or to encourage others to help promote the program, please click on "share" in "Email this Opportunity". To receive an email when the current application opens, please sign-up for our “News & Alerts List.”

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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.
View the Bezos Scholars Program at a Glance

School & Applicant Eligibility Criteria

Applicant's school must:

  • Be a public high school in the United States (charter and magnet schools 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 selected in the last two years are not eligible to apply. Click here for a full list of current ineligible schools.

    Applicant must:

    • Be a junior during the current academic year and at the time they are applying to the program.
    • Not currently attend one of the ineligible schools listed in the link provided above.
    • Have a proven track record of demonstrated leadership in their school and/or community.
    • Be enrolled in, or have taken, one or more Honors, Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) , or college-level classes.
    • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or have received DACA status. We apologize in advance, we are not able to serve DREAMer's that do not have DACA status at this time.
    • Be available to fully participate in the year-long program and attend all dates for the Aspen Ideas Festival trip in Aspen, Colorado: June 25 - July 1 (for the 2021 cohort). We apologize in advance, but no exceptions for late arrival or early departure can be made. Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 and with safety being our utmost priority, the Scholars trip to Aspen may not be determined until early May. If it is not safe to travel and gather in large groups, we will still host a 2021 cohort and will present engaging virtual programming for Scholars during the week that we intended to be in Aspen.
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Student and Educator Program Commitment:

As part of the application, students must nominate an educator from their school to participate in the year-long journey with them. Each are asked to individually evaluate and confirm their capacity to fully participate from May of the student's junior year to May of their senior year. This commitment generally entails the following:

  • Attending two to three virtual sessions a month that are one to two hours long (annual schedule will be shared in advance).
  • Participating in the full week-long trip to Aspen, CO at the end of June to attend the 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 and other funding deliverables identified by the program related to the community change project.

Students and educators dedicate anywhere from 5 - 20 hours per month on program-related activities throughout the year.

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Download program flyer

Descargue el folleto del programa

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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, extra-curricular activities, submission of an introductory video recording, and three short written essay responses. Submitting college entrance test scores and employment history is optional.

Part II:

Your Support requires applicants to invite and provide the name and email of an educator nominee and one personal recommender. The people identified should be prepared to support the applicant in applying for this opportunity as well as being a Scholar during the year-long program if they are selected.

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 educator and recommender submit their forms by the application deadline.

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

  • 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 school or school partner staff working at the applicants school. Any school staff, regardless of their title and role or anyone staff person working for a school's partner agency hosting programming at the school is eligible to be nominated.
    • The Educator Nominee cannot be related to or considered a family member of the applicant.
    • 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 other trusted adults, including 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/working at their current school for the following academic year.
  • Recommender: An applicant will need to identify one person to submit a personal 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, or the applicants nominated educator.
  • Students that are selected as Semi-Finalists will also be requested to have their school principal or vice principal complete a Principal Support Form, to ensure their school leadership recommends and supports their participation as well as agrees to partner with the program to bring a community change project to their school .

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
  • Ability to collaborate
  • Independent thought and ideas
  • Intrinsic motivation

  • Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Readiness to Engage in the Program

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

    Academic Rigor

    • Rigor of coursework
    • Cumulative GPA
    • 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 Honors, 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 them, 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.

      Educator Nomination and Personal 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