Austin SCBWI Scholarship for Creators of Diverse Worlds

Austin SCBWI believes that diverse worlds in books benefits readers, stories and our real world. To encourage writers and illustrators create diverse worlds, we launched our annual Austin SCBWI Scholarship for Creators of Diverse Worlds in 2015 and have been thrilled to watch it grow.

The scholarship was inspired by our February 2015 monthly meeting, during which author Cynthia Leitich Smith gave an amazing seminar on the need for diverse books and diverse worlds within books. She encouraged all writers and illustrators to think diversely when creating the worlds of their stories, while also being respectful of writing outside of their our experiences. Click here for the report, including tips and a reading guide.

Kidlit and teenlit writers and illustrators of all genres whose work in progress has characters (main or supporting) that are diverse in race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disabilities, etc., may enter. The scholarship is limited to creators who have not traditionally published a children’s/young adult book or have a book under contract.

Submissions are anonymous and judged on the use of diverse worlds as well as the creator’s skill with his or her craft. If the story is own voices, reflecting the experience of the creator, please feel free to include that in your submission.

This year’s scholarship will be judged by Saba Sulaiman, a senior agent at Talcott Notch Literary Services.

Winners are awarded in 3 categories:

— Picture Books or board books (fiction and non-fiction)

— Early readers, chapter books, MG or YA (fiction and non-fiction)

— Illustration or author/illustrator

The winner for each category will receive a scholarship for both days of our annual Writers & Illustrators Working Conference to be held in person April 29-30, 2023. This includes all the keynotes and breakout sessions (does not include critiques, pitch/consultation, or travel expenses).

A second honor award for each category will receive a 50% discount to either the full conference or Saturday sessions.

Submissions are now CLOSED. The deadline was Wednesday, February 15, 2023. Scroll down for instructions.

Winners will be announced in March. If you plan on attending the conference and want to sign up for a critique, you can register for the conference and a critique when registration opens. Any scholarship winners who’ve already registered will be reimbursed for the cost of conference (not including critiques).

There is no submission fee. Only one submission is allowed per person.

Submission Guidelines

Writers prepare one (1) Word document that includes the following:

•  Brief 3-4 sentence paragraph about the diverse world in this work in progress. If applicable, you may include any details about how the story is related to your own life experience.

•  One (1) page writing sample from your manuscript formatted with standard formatting rules. This page can be the first page or a representative page from elsewhere in the manuscript.

•  Name the file with a keyword(s) from the title of your work and your category, e.g.: CubaPocket-Novels

Illustrators prepare the following:

•  One to three (1-3) illustration sample from the work in progress, either a portfolio piece or illustrations from a picture book dummy (not the full dummy), no more than 5MB in size. If you’re an author/illustrator, please submit a 3-page dummy.

•  One (1) Word document with a brief 3-4 sentence paragraph about the diverse world in this piece or dummy. If applicable, you may include any details about how the story is related to your own life experience.

•  Name your image(s) and Word document with a keyword(s) from the title of your work and your category, e.g.: GoodnightMoon-Illustration

Please make sure the title and category are included on the first page of the document but NOT your name.


Questions? Need help submitting the form due to a disability? Email ascbwi-diversity @ (remove the spaces around the @).

Please note: We encourage all kidlit and teen lit writers and illustrators to enter, no matter where they live. Membership in SCBWI is not required.

Scholarship winners may not be announced before conference registration opens. If you want a critique at the conference, you should register early. If you don’t win and can’t pay for the conference on your own, you can request a refund until March 29, 2023. 

We look forward to getting your submission. Good luck!