Application

Is there a limit on the number of student applications a school may submit?

Yes, we ask that schools submit no more than two applications. If there are multiple interested and eligible students, we suggest the school host an internal selection process to identify the top two candidates who will move forward with an application.

What are the eligibility requirements for students?

Applicants must attend a school that meets these criteria:

  • Public high school (including charter and magnet schools)
  • At least 30 percent of students are eligible for free/reduced price meals (firm cutoff)
  • In an effort to provide this opportunity to a broader number of schools, priority will be given to schools that have not had a Bezos Scholar in the previous two years.

Student Scholar applicants must meet these criteria:

  • Junior status during the 2016-17 academic year
  • Legal U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or have received DACA status
  • Demonstration of leadership in one’s school and community
  • Have taken 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
  • Availability to participate in all program dates, including June 24-June 30, 2017 in Aspen, Colorado

Are exceptions made for stellar students in other grades?

The Bezos Scholars Program is designed specifically for rising seniors. Only students who are juniors at a public high school during the current academic year may apply.

Can a mentor or educator from outside my school (i.e. a mentor who works at a local community organization) serve as the educator nominee?

No. The educator nominee must be a principal, vice principal, guidance counselor, or classroom teacher from the student's high school who intends to be working at the school during the following academic year.

How does an educator apply?

Educator nominees submit their information as part of the student application. The student must initiate the application process. When the student begins their application, they will be provided a link to send to the nominated educator. This link is unique, and tied to the student’s application. Educator Scholar Nominee form includes basic questions about background, teaching style, and a few short written responses.

What if I haven’t taken the PSAT, SAT, ACT, or ACT Aspire test?

Scores from at least one of these standardized tests are required as part of the application. A copy of your score report is sufficient—we do not require an official copy from ETS.

When is the application deadline?

The due date for applications is February 10, 2017.

How do I submit my application?

To begin, you will need to affirm your eligibility by completing the Scholar Agreement, which allows you to create a profile. After you sign in, you can save and return to your application any time prior to the deadline. Once submitted, you are no longer able to edit your application. The application contains two parts:

1. Part One: Your Story

We collect basic background information, school details, coursework related to AP/IB and/or any college courses you may have taken, test scores, extra-curricular activities you participate in, and three written responses. Be sure to have your transcripts and test scores on hand to upload for Part One.

2. Part Two: Your Support

Here, we ask you to identify two people to submit letters of recommendation on your behalf. You might consider asking a teacher, mentor, or community member to complete the recommendation forms. Please note that it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that selected individuals have enough time to complete the forms and submit them before the application deadline. Links will be provided for you to send the forms directly to these individuals within the online application.

We also want to hear from your principal, as well as the educator that you and your principal are nominating to support you in the coming year. Again, please be mindful that it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the principal and nominated educator have enough time to complete the forms and submit them before the application deadline. Links will be provided for you to send the forms directly to these individuals within the online application.

All components of the application must be submitted by the deadline to be considered for the Bezos Scholars Program. Late applications will not be considered.

How many Bezos Scholars are there each year?

30 scholars are selected each year

  • 12 rising seniors from U.S. high schools
  • 12 educators accompanying their selected student
  • 5 students from the African Leadership Academy
  • 1 educator from the African Leadership Academy

To date there have been more than 300 Bezos Scholars.

How are applications evaluated?

Applications will be read carefully by members of a selection committee. The committee—comprised of a diverse group of leaders in education, global advocacy, science, design, media, and youth leadership—will select finalists based on academic rigor, written responses, demonstrated leadership, community engagement, and submitted recommendations. We’re seeking passionate and intellectually curious young people, who are rising leaders in their schools and communities. We value cultural, racial, socioeconomic, and geographic diversity among applicants and schools. In an effort to provide this opportunity to a broader number of schools, priority will be given to schools that have not had a Bezos Scholar in the previous two years.

How can I make my application stand out?

We’re looking for high school students who are independent thinkers, demonstrated leaders, and engaged community members. Be sure to show how this opportunity will serve you as an aspiring leader! Top applicants:

  • Express themselves clearly and authentically
  • Highlight their personal and group leadership skills and community involvement
  • Double-check their work and submit a complete, error-free application
  • Demonstrate academic rigor
  • Are excited about learning for the sake of learning, and are open to new perspectives and ideas
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In Aspen

What are the program dates for the 2017 Bezos Scholars Program in Aspen, Colorado?

June 24 – June 30, 2017. Selected students and educators are required to attend all dates of the programming in Aspen.

What can I expect to experience?

Arrive with a big appetite for new ideas and inspiration. On the Aspen Institute campus, Scholars attend seven days of seminars, tutorials, lectures, and debates. They share in roundtable discussions with some of the most provocative thinkers, writers, artists, entrepreneurs, and change-agents from around the world. In addition, interactive leadership development training also prepares Scholars for the challenge ahead: creating a sustainable community change project, known as a Local Ideas Festival. Be prepared—days begin early and end late!

What’s Aspen like in the summer?

Aspen is remarkable year-round, but summer is especially beautiful. At an elevation of 8,000 feet, days in the Rockies will be warm and sunny with cooler nights. Scholars spend days on the renowned campus of the Aspen Institute, and evenings at various locations on campus and in town. There are cottonwood trees in all directions, providing what often appears to be a "summer snow."

Local Ideas Festivals

Can Scholar teams select any theme for their festival?

Successful festivals are an intersection of a true community need and Scholar passions. We encourage Scholars to spend time gathering information before selecting a festival theme.

What does a successful festival look like?

Successful festivals look different for each and every student and educator team. Scholars embrace a wide range of issues, including STEM education, literacy, environmental issues, and more. Success is measured by the festival achieving the goals that the team sets forth in the beginning, such as increased awareness levels or peer and community engagement. We also urge Scholars to focus on creating sustainable festivals that can continue year after year. Check out these videos to watch successful festivals in action.

How do the students and educators work together on the Local Ideas Festival?

Students and educators function as a collaborative team throughout the year. Starting in Aspen, both receive training, professional development, and participate in the Aspen Ideas Festival. Returning home, Scholars build a broader team of students and school administrators to support the creation of a community change project.

How do Scholars receive seed funding?

After returning home from the Aspen Ideas Festival, Scholars begin a grant application process to receive a $1,000 school award. With support from the Bezos Scholars Program team, Scholars submit a grant proposal, and complete progress, and final grant reports. Scholars are also encouraged to seek additional funding from their community, including in-kind donations. Schools are eligible to receive $1,000 each year, for up to three years, to continue their festivals by completing a grant application.

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General

Are there any application fees or hidden costs to this program?

No, the Bezos Scholars Program covers ALL expenses, including airfare, transportation, lodging, meals, and festival fees for both students and educators. Scholars handle travel to and from their home airports on the day of departure and return, and day-of travel expenses, such as snacks.

How was the program established?

The Bezos Scholars Program was founded in 2005 by the Bezos Family Foundation. It is funded and run by the Bezos Family Foundation and hosted in collaboration with the Aspen Institute—a global forum for leadership and open-minded dialogue, in Aspen, Colorado.

Who can I contact for more information?

If you have additional questions, contact scholars@joinbsp.org.