Highlights Foundation Awards Scholarships to 115 Storytellers Who Write and Illustrate for Kids

Apr 25, 2024 | Highlights Foundation News, Scholarship Stories


April 25, 2024


Highlights Foundation Awards Scholarships to 115 Storytellers Who Write and Illustrate for Kids

Honesdale, PA – The Highlights Foundation has awarded a record 115 scholarships to aspiring and established children’s authors and illustrators for use in 2024.

Scholarships include full tuition for in-person working and community retreats, personal retreats, and online courses at the Highlights Foundation, and are made possible through generous donations from Highlights Foundation supporters and partner organizations who believe in the organization’s mission: to positively impact children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves.  Recipients and awards are included below.

The Highlights Foundation scholarship program was instituted nearly 40 years ago, around the time the organization was founded.  Its scope has increased, but it has always represented a living commitment to invest in storytellers to facilitate a long-term positive impact on the world by inspiring kids through story.

“The ‘Highlights Way’ is grounded in the belief that children are the world’s most important people,” says George Brown, Executive Director of the Highlights Foundation.  “Our organization’s mission and everything we do comes from adherence to that belief, and our action lies in our unwavering dedication to nurture and support the storytellers whose books make a difference in kids’ lives.”

This year’s scholarship recipients strongly demonstrated these values in their applications, as well.

“My mission is to inspire, entertain, and educate children.  I grew up loving books and stories, and hope to pass this love to future generations. Books teach us many things, [but] most importantly, [they teach us] empathy. I hope my stories and books become building blocks to a more compassionate world,” said Sandhya Acharya, a picture book author who plans to use her scholarship to work on a middle grade novel in verse.

Jackie Morera, a 2024 debut picture book author who will use her scholarship to continue on the path of finishing her second novel, shared a similar drive to create: “I am most passionate about telling stories about characters who look, sound, and love like the people who filled my world—but not my books—growing up.”

Cathryn Brenner is a semi-retired elementary school teacher who will use her scholarship to continue work on several nonfiction picture book manuscripts.  She says: “I am drawn to stories that connect kids (and the adults who read to them) to the world, pique their curiosity, and empower them to be knowledgeable decision makers. That’s the writer I strive to be.”

Karuna Riazi echoed a similar sentiment.  She’ll use her scholarship to revise a middle grade novel, and brainstorm a new project.  She says, “Being able to welcome readers into my stories; to encourage them to use my narratives as safe patches to grow in and bloom into their own potential, is something that has been important to me since my debut, and that I continue to strive toward.”

To contribute to the Highlights Foundation Scholarship program, donate online at https://www.highlightsfoundation.org/donate-online/.

Scholarships awarded include:

In 2024, in-community retreat scholarships were supported via a grant from Hawthornden Foundation.  Additional scholarships were also provided through a grant from the Doris Duke Foundation (DDF). Through the Building Bridges Program, DDF supports national efforts, working with U.S. Muslims, to increase mutual understanding and well-being among diverse populations for the benefit of building stronger, inclusive communities.

For a full list of the scholarships and their sponsors, visit https://www.highlightsfoundation.org/scholarships/.

Recipients include:

Omar Abed

Sandhya Acharya

Sara Holly Ackerman

Zainab Adam

Keliko Adams

J.H. Ahn

Mariam Alhusseini

Jackie Alvarado

Amanda LaTasha Armstrong

Afsha Bawany

Ariel Birdoff

Lisa Boeglin

Cathryn Brenner

Coriander Brown

Catherine Byun

Marisa Catalina Casey

Loretta Chefchaouni

Chris Choi

Parsa Choudhury, PhD.

Lisa Cloherty

Amy Cohen

Donyae Coles

Quinette Cook

Lindsay “Bones” Cordero

Margaret Deng

Christine Hartman Derr

Lou Diedrich

Christiana Doucette

Avani Dwivedi

Molli Ehlert

Tricia Elam Walker

Hoda Elmasry

AJ Eversole

Najah Farley

Sadiyah Faruk

Trenise Ferreira

Beste Filiz

Andrea Cruz Floren

Ashley Franklin

Fida Ghnaim

Tiffany Golden

Gennie Gorback

Kelsey Grass

Janelle Harper

Brenda Harris

Shannan L. Hicks

Darla Himeles

Dina Hodara

Marie Jaskulka

A.Tony Jerome

Mike Jung

Mariel M. Jungkunz

Kristen Kareem

Seth Kazmar

Aimen Khan

Michele Kirichanskaya

Michael Kokozos

Jake Koniszewski

Jill Dubbeldee Kuhn

Rebecca Lee Kunz

Deirdre Laide

Denise Lajimodiere

Morgan Lau

Emily Sun Li

Mariana Llanos

Rebecca Loggia

Mitu Malhotra

Michele Manning

Shay McClean

Nancy So Miller

Kamilla Milligan

Jessica Milo

Patricia Miranda

Diane Mittler

Jehanne Moharram

Ofelia Montelongo

Cindy Montenegro

Jackie Morera

Janna Morton

Darcie Naslund

Cam Anh Nguyen

Michelle Orrelle

Violet Phelps

Julian Plum

Kathryn Powell

Casey W. Robinson

Doreen Klein Robinson

Yasmin Rodino

Naima Russell

Laila Sabreen

Liz Schwartz

Varsha Seshan

Celia Watson Seupel

Sylvie Juliet Shaffer

Tabassam Shah

Brinda Shah

Nadine Shatzkes

Tonya L. Shenandoah (Oneida)

Kayla Stark

Lisa Stringfellow

Gaby Taboas

Joy Netanya Thompson

Lisa Trank

Megan Troup

Karuna Riazi

Alyssa Vandegrift

Pradeep Velugubantla

Paul Vinelli

Arriel Vinson

Raven Warner

Ash Wilda

Diana Willett

Anita Yasuda

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George Brown, Executive Director, Highlights Foundation


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The Highlights Foundation positively impacts children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves.  Learn more about our impact.