Diversity Fellowship in Children’s Literature 2019-2020

  • Highlights Foundation Highlights Foundation
  • Pocono Mountains Municipal, Coolbaugh Township, PA, USA
  • Sep 13 - 15, 2019 (3 days)
  • $0.00 - Program Price

About This Event


The Diversity Fellowship in Children’s Literature is a 24-month professional development and mentorship program for People of Color and Indigenous authors or illustrators who are actively pursuing publication within the children’s publishing industry.

What You’ll Learn

Each Fellow will receive:

A robust curriculum specifically intended for professional development, leading Fellows closer to publishing their work.

A Mentor specifically selected and dedicated to one full year of one-to-one professional coaching to build the Fellow’s knowledge, skills, and aptitude in preparing their manuscript and/or art samples for submission.

Full travel and tuition costs to attend the five workshops at the Highlights Foundation that make up this Fellowship.

Opportunities to meet as a cohort for peer review, creative exchange, and community-building.

Opportunities to meet industry professionals: published authors and illustrators, editors, art directors, and agents.

Three immersive workshop experiences will be focused on goal-setting, with community-building activities centered around the craft of writing and illustrating for children and young adult audiences, a Mentor panel, industry insight how-to’s, work sessions, and roundtable discussions. These workshops will engage Fellows in enriched dialogue exploring the perspectives of marginalized voices and spend significant time exploring the craft of writing and illustrating as it relates to their own personal work.

Diversity Fellows will also enroll in two additional workshops of their choice from The Highlights Foundation’s (contact info blocked) workshop catalog that allow Fellows the opportunity to customize their sessions to meet their specific writing and/or illustrating goals.

Who Should Attend

People of Color and Indigenous authors or illustrators who are actively pursuing publication within the children’s publishing industry are welcome to apply.


Diversity Fellowship Application Window: March 15-April 15, 2019

The application window for the Diversity Fellowship has closed. Thank you to everyone who applied–we received over 150 applications and will be reviewing them shortly. Stay tuned for May 15th when we will be announcing our Diversity Fellows!

Fellows are Announced: May 15

Getting Started: Mentors and Fellows Connect Online: May 15-June 15, 2019

Mentors and Fellows will meet via phone or online and begin discussing Fellows’ goals, choice of workshops to attend, and choice of manuscript to submit for review. Fellows will select two Highlights Foundation workshops to attend, from the 2019 and/or 2020 workshop season.

Manuscript Preparation: June-August 2019

Fellows will prepare their manuscript, synopsis, and cover letter for written critique by their Mentor.

Manuscript Submission Deadline: August 15, 2019

Fellows can submit an entire picture book manuscript or, for longer works, they can submit a synopsis, ten pages and a cover letter. The Mentor will prepare a written manuscript review for in-person meeting during session one.

Session One: Community, Conversation, and Momentum: September 13-15, 2019

All Fellows and Mentors, plus program facilitator, author Leah Henderson, and special guest author An Na, will meet at the Highlights Foundation Retreat Center. The session will include:

One-to-one time with Mentors to receive feedback on Fellows’ submitted manuscripts

Fellows will work with Mentors on goal-setting, including workshop selection

Both Fellows and Mentors will have free writing time

Sessions on craft, including a Mentor panel

September 2019-March 2020

Fellows will continue working on their manuscripts and attending chosen workshops.

Session Two: Opportunities for Publication: March 15-17, 2020

All Fellows and Mentors, plus a program facilitator, industry editor or agent and special guest author &illustrator Pat Cummings, will meet at the Highlights Foundation Retreat Center. The session will include:

Business-focused sessions on submissions, pitches, and industry insights

Session with an editor, agent and art director as needed

Further goal-setting sessions, including submissions planning

Fellows will receive one-to-one feedback from their Mentor and at least one agent/editor

Fellows will participate in roundtable critique sessions facilitated by Mentors

Mentor panel discussing their paths to publication

Future: Recognition and Celebration Event

A reuniting event for Fellowship participants to come together, be recognized for their achievements, share in their successes, and build an alumni network.


We Need Diverse Books, a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.

The Brown Bookshelf is designed to push awareness of the myriad Black voices writing for young readers. Their flagship initiative is 28 Days Later, a month-long showcase of the best in Picture Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult novels written and illustrated by Black creators.

The Children’s Book Council Diversity Initiative advocates for an inclusive and representative children’s publishing industry and highlights diverse creators, books, resources, and articles through its blog and monthly newsletter.

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators provides grants to promote diversity.

The Windows and Mirrors of Your Child’s Bookshelf, a TED talk by author Grace Lin.

Can A Children’s Book Change the World?, a TED talk by author Linda Sue Park.

New Voices Award, given annually by Lee & Low Books for a children’s picture book manuscript by a writer of color or Native/Indigenous writer.

American Indians in Children’s Literature provides critical perspectives and analysis of indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books, the school curriculum, popular culture, and society.


This is a new initiative, so we have no testimonials yet.

Cancellation Policy

100% deposit refund for cancellation 30+ days before event.
50% deposit refund for cancellation 15-29 days before event.
0% deposit refund for cancellation 0-14 days before event.
The remaining balance (total price minus deposit) is due upon arrival.
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