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Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2022 SCBWI Ohio North Conference: Underrepresented Diverse Voices Scholarship

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2022 SCBWI Ohio North Conference

Underrepresented Diverse Voices Scholarship


The Underrepresented Diverse Voices Conference Scholarships are intended to lift and amplify underrepresented diverse voices as they pursue their writing and illustrating goals for young readers. SCBWI Ohio North Two offered two scholarships for the 2022 regional conference: one to a current member and one to a non-member. 


SCBWI Ohio North is pleased to announce the two 2022 Underrepresented Diverse Voices Conference scholarship recipients: Meena Banatwala-Poe and Sheila Keegan! 


Meet 2022 SCBWI Member Scholarship Recipient: Meena Banatwala-Poe

An SCBWI Ohio North member since 2021, Meena is working on young adult fiction, specifically sci-fi/fantasy. 

SCBWI Ohio North asked Meena what this scholarship means to her and her work: 

“The Underrepresented Diverse Voices Scholarship allows me to share and celebrate how my unique social and ethic background has influenced the writing of my young adult novel. My experience, growing up as a child of Indian descent in a household that followed a Hindu religious tradition, was challenging. It was not uncommon that people felt uncomfortable with my differences, and this had an unfavorable effect on my day-to-day life. 

The deeper thematic focus in my book is how we deal with differences in others and ourselves. Do we come to a place of understanding and acceptance, or do we build walls to hide our fears behind? I believe these are important themes for young adults to grapple with when their sense of self is going through precarious changes. It would be wonderful if young readers could find themselves on the pages of my book, that it would help them navigate their human experience and fully embrace their own uniqueness in a world that pressures them to conform. 

As this is my first in-person writing conference and my first completed novel, I’m thrilled to share my book with other writers and professionals and gain beneficial editing skills to polish my story.”

Follow Meena on Twitter at @MeenaBanatwala



Meet 2022 Non-Member (Now a NEW Member!) Scholarship Recipient: Sheila Keegan

Sheila is a graduate of the Columbus College of Art and Design currently working on a series of illustrations for her picture book portfolio. She would love to illustrate stories that show different cultures, fantasy, adventure, nature, humor, and surreal bedtime stories. 

SCBWI Ohio North asked Sheila what this scholarship means to her and her work:

“Growing up as a kid who loved reading, I rarely saw characters in books that looked like me, or families that were like mine. It’s fantastic that SCBWI gives importance to diversity in children’s publishing and I hope that my work will contribute to this in the future. 

By attending my first SCBWI conference, I hope to learn ways to improve my children’s book illustrations, be inspired by people who are experienced in children’s publishing, and make friends and connections with fellow illustrators, writers, editors, art directors, and agents. I’m excited to meet like-minded people at the conference in real life.” 

Follow Sheila on Instagram at @sheilakeegan


Congratulations to both scholarship recipients from the SCBWI Ohio North Regional Team! We look forward to finally meeting you in-person, Write Back Where We Belong!





Scholarship Details and Application Process (Now Closed)

  • The member scholarship includes conference fee, one faculty critique (written or in-person), and Friday intensive. 


  • The non-member scholarship includes conference fee, one faculty critique (written or in-person), and one year membership to SCBWI. 


Scholarship Evaluation Criteria:

  • Demonstrated interest in and passion for children’s literature
  • Vision for how attending the conference will help to reach writing/illustrating goals
  • Vision for how an individual’s writing/illustrating will bring underrepresented diverse stories and experiences to readers
  • Demonstrated progress in writing and/or illustrating for kids through a current project 



We want to contribute to the goals of celebrating and expanding the universe of diverse books in children’s literature. For purposes of these conference scholarships, we are using the We Need Diverse Books definition of diversity to guide eligibility:


“We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, Native, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.


*We subscribe to a broad definition of disability, which includes but is not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses (this may also include addiction). Furthermore, we subscribe to a social model of disability, which presents disability as created by barriers in the social environment, due to lack of equal access, stereotyping, and other forms of marginalization.”


A. Must be an individual who identifies with one or more aspects of the We Need Diverse Books definition of diversity (see above)

B. Must be 18 years or older

C. Must be an Ohio resident or Ohio student

D. Must submit application information by deadline (see below)

E. Must be a current member of SCBWI to apply for member scholarship

F. Must not be a current member of SCBWI to apply for non-member scholarship 


Application Process:

The goal of the scholarship is to lift and amplify underrepresented voices in children’s literature for writers and illustrators in Ohio and improve inclusivity and representation at the 2022 SCBWI Ohio North conference. There are four questions as part of the application process, as well as a request for a brief sample of your work. Your answers to each question can be as long or as short as you’d like, but we ask that all of your answers to questions 1-3 do not exceed 3 pages. 

The application does not have to disclose any aspect of your underrepresented diverse identity and work submitted does not need to reflect an underrepresented diverse identity or experience, although this is welcomed if you are comfortable sharing. The SCBWI Ohio North Regional Team trusts that if you are applying for this scholarship, you will communicate what is necessary to evaluate your application with the criteria above in mind. If you have any concerns about any of the application questions, you can reach out to the SCBWI Ohio North Regional Advisor, Kellie DuBay Gillis, at


Please answer the following questions:

#1. What type(s) of kidlit are you working on (e.g., picture books, chapter books, middle grade, young adult, graphic novels, etc.)? 

#2. What do you hope to learn through the conference?

#3. What types of stories do you hope to share with readers through your work?

In addition to questions 1-3, please share up to three pages from a work-in-progress that you would want to improve through what you learn at the conference. 


Please email your answers and the sample of your work-in-progress to with the word “Scholarship” somewhere in the subject line. 

Please indicate in your email if you are applying for the member or non-member scholarship.

Please be sure to include in your email your first and last name, your city or college name with zip code, your email address, and a phone number; this information will be removed when your application is evaluated. 


Important Dates:

  • Application period starts Wednesday, June 1. 
  • Application period ends Friday, July 1 at 11:00 pm eastern. 
  • Award notices will be made on Friday, July 8.