Take advantage of an uncommon leadership development opportunity.
Vision & Mission
We know that inspired educators help create inspired students. The Bezos Scholars Program @ the Aspen Institute was launched to help cultivate the next generation of leaders. Because of the pivotal role that schools and communities play in shaping young leaders, this unique leadership development opportunity engages a Student Scholar and an Educator Scholar from the 12 selected high schools across the country. We’re searching for visionary educators, often leaders in their schools and communities, serving in a range of roles from classroom teacher to principal or assistant principal.
Each summer, 12 exceptional high school students—paired with 12 educators from respective schools—will travel to the Aspen Ideas Festival, a remarkable gathering of thinkers and change agents from around the world. During this all-expenses-paid week, provided by the foundation and hosted by the Aspen Institute, Scholars engage in seminars and informal meetings with international leaders, journalists, entrepreneurs and artists from diverse fields. Past Bezos Scholars have met with retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Secretaries of Education Arne Duncan and Margaret Spellings, TOM’s shoe founder Blake Mycoskie, New York Times columnists Thomas Friedman and Nicholas Kristof, and many others. The student-educator relationship is essential, as together they will forge their own Local Ideas Festival that will transform their schools and communities.
Alumni Educator Scholars call the experience “transformational,” “inspiring” and “life-changing.” In addition to daily festival offerings—plenary sessions, moderated panels, and tutorials with leading thinkers and change agents—Educator Scholars will experience:
- Exclusive time with world leaders in an intimate setting
- Dedicated leadership trainings and peer learning time with colleagues from across the country
- Dynamic discussions that explore new thinking about educational leadership
- Evening events, including film screenings, concerts and conversation (and visits to Aspen’s top ice cream shop!)
- Ongoing peer learning and collaboration opportunities with alumni Educator Scholars
The Responsibility: Start a Legacy
Following Aspen, you’ll work as a team with your school’s Student Scholar to create a Local Ideas Festival. Inspired by big ideas cultivated in Aspen, Scholar teams work together to create Local Ideas Festivals in their schools. Local Ideas Festival proposals are eligible to receive $1,000 seed grants, which are made available for three consecutive years. The best proposals are sustainable, scalable and focus on relevant issues to schools and communities.
Expect to wear many hats when teaming with your student to create a Local Ideas Festival—sounding board, leadership coach, and lightning rod for logistics and resources, including planning, speakers, venues and potential supporters. Please note that Educator Scholars are engaged participants, not merely student chaperones. This program is designed for educators to learn, grow, connect and engage as full participants in the Aspen Ideas Festival and the co-creation of Local Ideas Festivals.
We are looking for exceptional public high school juniors nationwide, as well as visionary educators who will partner with them on the journey. The Student Scholar application includes a nomination form—the Educator Scholar Nominee Profile—for the principal to complete should he/she wish to self-nominate for this opportunity. Principals may also choose to nominate an exemplary educator to complete the profile for consideration (see Eligibility criteria). Upon identification of the 12 Student Scholar finalists, Educator Scholar nominees will participate in a telephone interview with Bezos Scholars Program staff. Please feel free to contact us should you wish to discuss this opportunity further, or speak to an alumni Educator Scholar. Learn more by viewing Apply.
- Public High School (including Charter and Magnet schools)
- At least 25% of students are eligible for free/reduced lunch program. This is a firm cut-off.
- Offers Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or college credit courses
Educator Scholar Criteria
- Passion for education and youth leadership development
- Champion of big ideas, high expectations and actionable aspirations
- Nurtures a supportive and motivational environment for student learning
- Willingness to collaborate with your Student Scholar to plan and launch a sustainable Local Ideas Festival
- Appetite for week-long immersion in the Aspen Ideas Festival which includes long, power-packed days of panels, events and leadership development
- A desire to improve classroom, school, and district education through this opportunity and experience