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Meet the 2024 Bezos Scholars

As the Aspen Ideas Festival returns this June, attendees will include 30 exceptional high school students and educators from across the United States and Africa—the 2024 cohort of the Bezos Scholars Program. These student Scholars are some of the youngest attendees at the Festival every year, and they are eager to learn, network, and hear from some of their favorite thinkers, leaders, and activists while in Aspen.

  • May 30th 2024

As the 20th Aspen Ideas Festival approaches, the 20th cohort of students and educators selected for the Bezos Scholars Program are excited to attend for the first time! The 2024 cohort’s 13 teams, comprised of rising high school seniors and an educator they nominated, come from across the U.S. and Africa. Student Scholars are some of the youngest attendees at the festival every year, and they are eager to learn, network, and hear from some of their favorite thinkers, leaders, and activists while in Aspen. 

In 2005, the Bezos Family Foundation launched the Scholars program. This year-long leadership development program challenges participants to work with their communities to design and implement a Community Change Project. The program delivers specific and measurable learning outcomes while amplifying youth voice and action by supporting scholars as they produce real-world projects aimed at positive change.  

The mostly virtual program begins with building a sense of belonging for participants before embarking on an all-expenses paid trip to the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado. There, students engage in leadership workshops, activities and exclusive conversations with diverse global leaders. This experience is meant to provide inspiration and kick-start ideas as Scholar teams embark on exploring, developing and implementing sustainable Community Change Projects.  

“Engaging the 20th cohort of Bezos Scholars is an honor,” said Molly Pencke, Senior Program Manager at the Bezos Family Foundation. “Every year, student and educator teams produce innovative ideas, persevere through challenges and collaborate with their communities to create incredible projects that make a meaningful difference. Education and opportunities for youth to lead are vital to improving societal issues, and we cannot wait to see what these Scholars do.”   

For their participation in the program, Scholars join a diverse and talented cohort community of 30 students and educators who engage in more than 45 hours of virtual leadership skill-building sessions and earn $1,000 in funding to launch their projects, which teams can reapply for annually. Students also receive free personalized college advising and, upon program completion, have access to unique opportunities offered through the Scholar Alum Network. 

The topics and themes of Scholar projects are as diverse as the Scholars themselves and designed to align Scholars’ passions with an existing community need. Many projects address the climate crisis, gender and education equity, and financial literacy and advocate for historically marginalized and underrepresented communities to increase access to opportunities. Since the program’s inception, Scholars have launched 215 projects, and there are over 465 alums in the network. 


The Bezos Family Foundation is honored to welcome the following Scholars: 

Student Scholars Abdelkarim Ben Fraj, Amani Nyonyoozi Tumusiie, Helena Appakouo Dogo, Kashimani Simasiku, Tatenda Shamiso Mazambani and Educator Nandi Mgwaba representing their home countries of South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda, Côte d'Ivoire, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  

Student Scholar Kamar Sati and educator Virginia Brown Acevez from Champlin, Minnesota.  

Student Scholar Brissia Lopez Castro and educator Evelyn Pearcy from Baltimore, Maryland.  

Student Scholar Kahlial Lofquist and educator Anne Warrington from Portland, Oregon.  

Student Scholar Evan Negron and educator Lawrence Bamberger from Freeport, New York.  

Student Scholar Angelica Mejia and educator Carla Rodas-Piña from Greenacres, Florida.  

Student Scholar Jenny Au and educator Anna Park from Chicago, Illinois.  

Student Scholar Lizzie Casaleno and educator Amanda Xiques from Austell, Georgia.  

Student Scholar Rayana Ba and educator Sundoes Elbery from Jersey City, New Jersey.  

Student Scholar Amy Zhou and educator Dennis Lindsay from Miami, Florida.  

Student Scholar Albert Westbrook and educator Julie Carver from Dallas, Texas.  

Student Scholar Olivia Farmer and educator Yvette Jonna-Moore from Westland, Michigan. 

Student Scholar Hanna Corona and Daniel Thalkar from Los Angeles, California.  

To see full Scholar biographies and photos, please visit the Meet the Scholars page of the Bezos Scholars Program website. 

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