#HFGather: 2023 Scholarship Celebration and Information Session

Jan 31, 2023 | HFGather, Podcasts, Scholarship Stories

Update 2/11/23: our 2023 scholarship application period is now closed. To be informed of future scholarship opportunities, join the mailing list.

Alison Green Myers celebrated our 2023 scholarship program with some special guests: 2022 scholarship recipients Christiana Doucette, Sid Champagne and Jenniffer Jones and faculty member Sarah Aronson, who spoke very briefly about the Whole Novel Workshops, as those scholarships are now included in this application process.

Christiana led off the hour by sharing her experience with applying for, and receiving, a scholarship to an online workshop. She is a verse novelist who had taken a course with Cordelia Jensen, and she used her scholarship to attend a second verse novel workshop with Cordelia. She said that the online format worked well with her schedule and she shared that it was great to talk with others writing in her same genre. Find Christiana online at christianadoucette.wordpress.com; Alison said that Christiana shares some great resources for verse novelists on her website.

Sid Champagne first heard about our scholarships from faculty member Shadra Strickland, but this year someone on Instagram sent them a link to apply for our Transgender and Nonbinary Scholarship for Picture Book Storytellers. Sid had originally applied to attend a Personal Retreat, but decided they wanted a course with more structure and contacted us to see about applying it differently. We were pleased to welcome Sid to our Summer Camp in Illustration last summer. Find out more about Sid at sidchampagne.com.

Jenniffer Jones had been to our Summer Camp a few years ago, working on pictures books, and now wanted to try writing a YA novel. She applied for a Personal Retreat scholarship because she just needed time with no distractions to work on her novel. She said she got a big chunk of work done while she was there. (She also believes that the chefs are flown in from Narnia!)

Alison shared a demonstration of the application process and said that it probably takes about 20 minutes to fill it out. She answered some questions; but as we ran out of time, we have put below all of the questions asked during the Gather, with their answers.

If you missed the live session, you can watch it here.
Please note: closed captions are being added to the video below. When they are finished, you can see them by hovering over the bottom of the video and choosing the “CC” icon.

Listen to a podcast version of the #HFGather:

Questions Asked During the #HFGather

Below you will find questions put into our Q&A chat during the Gather, and their answers. If you don’t see your question here, it’s either because we answered it during the Gather, or your question was very specific to you and we have asked our Ambassador, Rona Shirdan, to get in touch with you directly.

You can find more information on our website at our Scholarship FAQ: https://www.highlightsfoundation.org/apply-for-a-scholarship/#faq.

Here are some links referenced during the Gather:




How important is financial need in determining how scholarships are awarded? Do we have to include our AGI, or is that optional?
Are the scholarships only based on a $ need?

Financial need is one aspect that is taken into consideration, along with seriousness of purpose, talent, and your connection to a named scholarship. There is an optional question asking for your AGI. It is not required but it does help. And there is also a narrative question allowing you to describe your financial need.

The personal retreats are three nights, but there’s a retreat for a week. How does one apply specifically for that?
Most personal retreat scholarships are for three nights. There are a couple that are longer. Personal retreats also differ from workshops. If you’re looking at an In Community retreat (such as our Asian & Asian American Voices Retreat) the scholarship you could use to attend that would be one for an in person workshop.

Some scholarships are clear about what they’re for — either workshops or retreat. Some don’t specify, so how do we know? A couple of examples are the Richard H. Bell and Brown Bookshelf scholarships?
You can find detailed information about each scholarship here: https://www.highlightsfoundation.org/scholarship-list/.

Do scholarships awarded in 2023 need to be used in 2023? Can it roll over if for some reason you need to wait until next year to take a class?
After awards are announced, we will provide all winners with a link to all workshops that are currently accepting registrations. Awards made in 2023 will be valid for the calendar year 2023, and calendar year 2024.

If I received a scholarship last year, can I apply again this year? Also, are there any virtual whole novel workshops that are not geared toward a specific genre or are those only in person?
Yes, you can apply again. Both of the non-specific Whole Novel Workshops are in-person.

Can we apply to more than 1 scholarship?
Are we allowed to apply for multiple scholarships?
if we write across several genres and age groups, can we apply to any scholarship that would be beneficial to us? Or should we just apply for the ones that apply to the writing sample we submit?
Can you apply for different scholarship categories?

You can apply for more than one named scholarship, but when submitting the application you must choose which type of scholarship for which you’d like to be considered:

  • an in-person workshop scholarship (for workshops held at our retreat center),
  • an online workshop scholarship (for our online courses),
  • a personal retreat scholarship (for solo retreat time at our retreat center),
  • or a Whole Novel workshop scholarship (specifically for use on your choice of one of our Whole Novel workshops).

For the application, writing samples are requested. I have written new adult novels and have a premise and story in mind for a children’s (early reader) book–but I haven’t yet started. I would love to take one of the crash courses in children’s book publishing, but don’t have the book written. Would a sample of my adult novel suffice?
Does my writing sample have to be a children’s/YA sample or can it be any genre?
For the writing sample, should we send an excerpt from something published, or something from the WIP we’d like to work on?

We do not require a complete draft of a work in progress to receive a scholarship. There is room on the application to tell us about your creative journey; where you’ve been, where you are now, and your future goals.

How long should the writing sample be?
General Applicants: 10 pages or less from a longer piece of fiction or nonfiction. WHOLE NOVEL APPLICANTS -Your submission should Include a one-page synopsis (or summary) of the novel you wish to workshop in this program, as well as the first 5 – 10 pages of the novel you wish to workshop in this program.

Which scholarships would best benefit an author/illustrator for children’s books?
What if we are not sure what class would be best for us?

If you need help with deciding which scholarship is right for you, please visit this website page: https://www.highlightsfoundation.org/ask-an-ambassador/, which will put you in touch with Rona Shirdin, our Ambassador.

What if you are published in a different genre and hope to learn to write something different. Does it matter if you have been published before? Or how long ago? It has been a long time.
Anyone is welcome to apply for a scholarship, published or unpublished. Some named scholarships are specific to where a person is on their creative journey, but many are not. There is space on the application to tell us about your general background as well.

How much of your personal identity do you need to share for the scholarship? Is it essential that you know someone at the foundation?
You don’t need to know someone at the Foundation to receive a scholarship. You should only share parts of your personal identity that you feel comfortable sharing. If you are applying for an identity-specific scholarship (for instance The Brown Bookshelf Scholarship is only for Black storytellers), it may be useful to share that you are a part of the group that the scholarship is for.

Can a complete newbie apply?
Yes, anyone can apply for scholarships. Apply no matter where you are in your creative journey.

During the workshops…how much time, on average, is time spent in class vs time writing on your own?
Each class has a different agenda. You can check out the different in person workshops with each agenda here:

If you are interested in a specific workshop that may sell out, is it better to pay for the workshop (on credit) and then hope for a scholarship? Or are scholarship recipients allowed a space into sold out classes?
If a workshop is already filled, we cannot open additional spaces to accommodate scholarship winners if they are not already registered for the course. As George Brown said in the Gather, this doesn’t happen as often as you might thing, but if you want to be absolutely sure, you should pay a deposit and register. You will get the deposit refunded if you receive a scholarship to the class.

Is there a scholarship for chapter book writers? And if so, is a chapter book session planned for 2023? Thanks!
Any of the scholarships can go towards chapter book workshops. We’ll have two… An in-person chapter book & early reader workshop (in October) and an online chapter book workshop (in June).

Is the whole novel scholarship only for novels or is it basically for whole book (like a children’s book)?
Is a children book – a short book, considered a novel to be in the whole novel course?

The Whole Novel Scholarships are only for middle grade or YA novels. As Sarah Aronson said in the Gather, she would consider a chapter book to be a fit, also.

Are all of the workshops for the year listed on the website, or will more be added throughout the year?
More will be added throughout the year, although the bulk will be listed by April.

I have a Picture Book that will be published soon, but I’d like to apply for a Whole Novel scholarship for a middle grade novel I am working on. I am unpublished in that genre. Is it okay for me to apply?

What format do samples need to be submitted in?
During the application there will be a way to upload a Word or PDF file.

Is it best to check off multiple scholarships to be considered for, or just one to two that really resonate with us?
Probably best to check off as many as would be a good fit.

Will the application save as you go so that you can work on it in a few sessions?
The application does not save as you work on it. It is recommended you fill it out in one go, or have the answers ready to copy and paste into the proper fields.

If I am applying for the Renee watson scholarship, which is a week long retreat, would I select the three day retreat option?
If you check the Renee Watson as one of your choices, you will be automatically be applying for the whole week.

What happens if you apply for an in-person scholarship but can’t make it for some reason, would we be able to do an online workshop in that event?
Yes, we would work with you to make this modification.

I became disabled and stopped working in 2022–I made money in 2022, but haven’t worked in almost a year. Will this affect my chance at a scholarship since I had an income then?
The best thing to do is just apply! We look at each situation individually.

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