Yes, we ask that no more than two students per school submit an application. If there are multiple eligible students at a school, we suggest the school host an internal selection process to identify the top two candidates to move forward with submitting an application.
Applicant's school must:
Only students who are juniors at a public high school during the current academic year may apply.
The Educator Nominee needs to be one of the following:
We cannot make exceptions to this requirement.
An Educator Nominee should be someone who connects and work well with students, is supportive of student-led projects, can provide constructive feedback, and understands and can commit to the year-long program requirements which average 5-20 hours per month.
Educators must attend all program dates in Aspen and must plan on being at their school for the following academic year.
Educators cannot apply on their own. If an educator is interested in this opportunity, they should engage and encourage a student leader who is currently a junior at their school to apply.
Student applicants will need to identify and nominate an educator from their school in their application who will serve as an engaged participant and collaborative partner throughout the year-long program. As an educator, they will accompany their student to Aspen and work with them to design and execute a community change project.
An Educator Nominee should be someone who:
We advise applicants to solicit their principal and/or vice principal for support and feedback on their educator nominee.
Being enrolled in or have taken at least one AP, IB, or College Level Course is required as part of the application. If your school does not offer one of these types of classes, consider enrolling and taking a class at your local community college or an online college level course you are interested in. If you do, work with your school to also see if they will allow this course to go toward your high school credit graduation requirements.
While academic rigor is a qualifying requirement, we recognize that many factors can affect a student’s success beyond grades, GPA, classes, and test scores. If an applicant has had 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. If these classes are 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.
Scores from at least one standardized test are required as part of the application.
While academic rigor is a qualifying requirement, we recognize that many factors can affect a student’s success. If an applicant has had 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.
Applications must be completed and submitted by midnight on Friday, January 29, 2021 – in the time zone the student resides.
Applications are not complete until all three forms are also submitted by the applicant’s principal, educator nominee, and recommender. This needs to be done by the deadline.
To start an application, students must first affirm eligibility and create a profile. A profile allows you to save and return to your application any time before the deadline. Once you submit your application, it can no longer be edited. A completed application includes:
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:
Readiness to Engage in the Program
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
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
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.
To encourage equity of opportunity, students that attend schools who have had a Scholar in the last two years are not eligible to apply. Due to COVID, Scholars were not able to be selected in 2020. For the 2021 application cycle, ineligible schools include:
The Bezos Scholars Program was founded in 2005 by Mike and Jackie Bezos who are passionate about amplifying and elevating youth voice and leadership. It is funded and run by the Bezos Family Foundation. The Aspen Institute, whose mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values, also provides support. The Bezos Family Foundation’s vision is that all young people—especially those furthest from opportunity—can reach their full potential and meaningfully contribute to society.
The Bezos Scholars Program is a “program within a program” that takes place during the annual Aspen Ideas Festival on the beautiful Aspen Institute campus. From sunrise to sundown, the Aspen Ideas Festival packs hundreds of fascinating discussions into 10 days, with over 3,000 attendees.
On the Aspen Institute campus, Scholars and educators attend seven days of exciting and rigors activities and experiences. This includes Scholar-exclusive conversations and meals with provocative thinkers, writers, artists, entrepreneurs, and change-agents from around the world.
The Festival is divided into three parts, each with its own standalone pass: Health, Festival 1, and Festival 2. We will have only passes and access to the Aspen Ideas Festival for Festival 1. During Festival 1, there will be time each day for Scholars to choose 3-4 sessions to attend outside of BSP-specific programming.
We will convene as a group for private sessions with notable speakers and guests throughout the week. Most days, in the afternoons and evenings during Festival 1, we have planned leadership sessions, workshops, and activities specifically designed for Scholars.
Read what Scholars have to share about their experience in Aspen:
Explore the Aspen Ideas Festival Website and Program Book
While at the Festival, we advise Scholars to follow their passions in selecting sessions and events, but also be open and push themselves to take in something new and unexpected.
The Bezos Scholars Program covers all costs for students and educators associated with lodging and travel to and from Aspen, Colorado except for transportation to and from their home airport. The Program also includes passes for attendance at the Aspen Ideas Festival 1 and all activities and meals during the time in Aspen.
Meals and an assortment of snacks will be provided throughout each day. There is also a lot of free food options available across the Aspen Institute campus during the Aspen Ideas Festival. We will honor any dietary or religious food restrictions Scholars share and always try to provide various options for different tastes/preferences.
For the 2021 cohort dates will be June 25 - July 1, 2021. Selected students and educators must attend all dates of the trip to be eligible to apply and participate in the program.
We arrange all travel for Scholars and send them a detailed travel itinerary before the trip. Students will stay together at a separate hotel from educators. Generally, both student and educator Scholars will share same-gender, double or triple occupancy rooms. Bezos Scholars Program staff will also stay at the student hotel and serve as student chaperones.
Aspen is remarkable year-round, but summer is especially beautiful! At an elevation of 8,000 feet, days in the Rockies in late June are usually warm and sunny with cooler mornings and nights. It can be unpredictable though, and weather can vary between sun, rain, hail, and even snow. Generally, weather is in the 70’s (F) during the day and the 40’s to 50’s at night.
There are cottonwood and aspen trees everywhere, blanketing the town in what appears to be "summer snow," which can aggravate allergies.
Altitude: Since Aspen is located at about 8,000 feet elevation, this means less oxygen and less humidity is available than at sea level, and a variety of usually mild symptoms can result. For most people, minor symptoms of altitude will disappear as their body adjusts within a few days. Some of the most common symptoms include:
The best way to minimize symptoms of altitude sickness is to take it easy, rest, drink A LOT of water, eat a little protein (even if you are not feeling hungry), and get plenty of sleep!
Successful community change projects are an intersection of a community need and a Scholar's passions. Students and educators spend substantial time at the beginning of the program researching, gathering information from and interviewing members of their community before choosing a specific.
Success can look different for each Scholar and community—just as the issue they choose to address is different. As part of the planning process, Scholars participate in workshops on Design Thinking and are encouraged to think outside of the box.
Scholars work with their teams to define their own goals and success is measured by the progress made toward achieving the goals, such as measurable increase in community engagement, number of attendees at an event, or establishing a school club by a date. We urge Scholars to focus on sustainability and to design projects that grow and evolve year after year. Check out these videos to see examples.
Each project is student-led. Yet students and educators function as a collaborative team throughout the year and work together to identify issues and ideas that resonate with their community.
Scholars build a team of students, school staff, community members, and partners to support the creation and execution of their project. Educators play a special role as advocates and allies to students on the team. This can include helping to navigate school administration and policies, engaging the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)/Booster Club or other traditionally adult-centered spaces, advocating for the project and its needs, or promoting and providing support with outreach. The educator is a cheerleader, helper, and sounding board for students on the team. Educators are asked to know when they may be over leading and needing to step back so students and youth can step into their leadership.
After returning home from the Aspen Ideas Festival, Scholars complete a grant proposal to receive a $1,000 award. With support from the Bezos Scholars Program team and their educator, Scholars go through a revision process and submit their grant proposal, receive funding which is given to their school, PTA/Booster Club, or a nonprofit that has agreed to be their fiscal sponsor. Scholars also complete a progress report mid-way through the year, and a final report at the close of the year. Scholars can seek additional funding from their community, if desired, including in-kind donations.
Schools are eligible to apply for and receive $1,000 each year, for up to three years total, to continue their projects. Continuing schools seeking funding must also complete a grant proposal, progress, and final report.
Students and their 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:
We estimate that students and educators dedicate 5 - 20 hours per month on program-related activities throughout the year.