By Kira Zalan, JAWS Fellowship Chair
This is an exciting time for the JAWS Fellowship Committee. We are in the midst of reviewing 105 applications to select the 2015 class of fellows. Our goal is to introduce the 13 recipients to you by June 15.
We have two dozen volunteers assigned to selection committees, many of them recent fellows. It’s heartening to see so many fellowship recipients give back to JAWS by helping organize regional events, supporting various committees and serving on the board of directors.
As we enter our fellowship fundraising season, I’d like to provide a bit of history of how we got here.
According to Her Story, JAWS offered the first scholarship for emerging journalists to come to the Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP) in 1989, relying on donations and funds raised through the silent auction. The effort grew quickly.
In 1992, a $15,000 Freedom Forum grant helped fund a diversity program and over $1,100 was raised for scholarships through the auction; the following year that amount nearly doubled. In 1995, the Joan Cook Scholarship Fund “to bring young journalists, especially women of color, to camp and into JAWS” was established with a $2,500 foundation grant. Book sales and the silent auction at CAMP brought in over $5,000 in 1998.
Today, JAWS offers four types of fellowship, which bring 13 women to CAMP annually. Ten fellows are selected under the Emerging Journalist program, plus one fellow each under the Diversity, Next Step and Entrepreneurial fellowships. The last two were created to help established JAWS members get to the conference.
To make all this possible, we rely on grants — including a five-year Diversity Fellowship grant from The Financial Times — but mostly on individual donations.
In 2013, we launched our first online crowdfunding effort, raising a respectable $4,380. Last year, we tripled that amount to $13,223. Two hundred people made donations ranging from $5 to $1,000. Fellowship winners also joined the effort, raising about $3,000 by reaching out to their networks.
This year we plan to do even better. We’re setting our goal at $15,000 to ensure we can cover all the costs associated with the program.
We launch our 2015 crowdfunding campaign on June 1, so please stop by and support the next class of fellows.