This June, the Bezos Scholars Program celebrates its 15th year at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Each year, 30 exceptional high school students and educators from across the US and the African Leadership Academy are selected as Bezos Scholars. All begin their program experience in Aspen.
The Bezos Family Foundation launched the Scholars program in 2005 to provide young people a platform to design solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing their communities. Scholars are selected based on demonstrated leadership abilities, willingness to embrace challenges, and the desire to create positive change in their communities.
The program begins with an all-expenses paid trip to the Aspen Ideas Festival. The week is filled with leadership training, panel discussions, and exclusive conversations with many of the world's most acclaimed scientists, journalists, artists, and global thought leaders. This experience sets the stage for the challenge ahead: launching sustainable projects, known as Local Ideas Festivals (LIFs), to transform their communities.
The topics and themes of LIFs are as diverse as the Scholars themselves and are designed to align Scholars' passions with an existing community need. Many address inequities in education, advocating for the rights of minorities and underrepresented communities, and the need to create space for civil discourse. Festivals are designed to be sustainable, and several are now in their eighth year, including the South African Ideas Festival in Johannesburg, run by the African Leadership Academy Scholars. Since the program's inception, more than 50,000 attendees have participated in these change projects.
"This year's impressive group of Scholars represents eight states and six African countries," said Molly Pencke, Bezos Scholars Program Manager at the Bezos Family Foundation. "Each of our Scholars has the leadership skills and motivation to look for new ways to engage their community and make a positive difference. We are honored to work and learn alongside them."
The Foundation is thrilled to welcome the following 2019 Scholars:
2019 Students and Educators:
Abigael Abuga (African Leadership Academy; Johannesburg, South Africa)
Mike Remezo (African Leadership Academy; Johannesburg, South Africa)
Mpiwa Gwindi (African Leadership Academy; Johannesburg, South Africa)
Nicolus Mositi (African Leadership Academy; Johannesburg, South Africa)
Thaksheel Alleck (African Leadership Academy; Johannesburg, South Africa)
Nkembo Kiala, Educator: (African Leadership Academy; Johannesburg, South Africa)
Rangasri Narayanamoorthy and Kady Clincy (Benjamin Franklin High School; New Orleans, LA)
Robert Lawrence and April W. Carberry (C. E. Byrd High School; Shreveport, LA)
Ernest Cisneros and Jorge Alvarez (Colton High School; Colton, CA)
Victor Ye and Matthew Rojas (Glen A. Wilson High School; Hacienda Heights, CA)
Sarah Tran and Cynthia Quintana (Granada Hills Charter High School; Granada Hills, CA)
Nicolette Peji and Dana Dale (Ideate High Academy; San Diego, CA)
Jalan Drummond and Precious White-Jordan (Lafayette High School; Lafayette, AL)
Zidikiyah Morrison and Cobren Greer (Livingston Collegiate Academy; New Orleans, LA)
Madison Momenee and Jessica Cutliffe (Noble High School; North Berwick, ME)
Trey Chapman and Lowana Wade (Piedmont Classical High School; Browns Summit, NC)
Peyton Klein and Jennifer McGonagle (Taylor Allderdice High School; Pittsburgh, PA)
Brayden York and Leslie Lewis (Kokomo High School; Kokomo, IN)
Written by Molly Pencke, Bezos Family Foundation