2023 Underrepresented Diverse Voices Conference Scholarship

Application Closed on July 10

Announcing the 2023 Underrepresented Diverse Voices Scholarship Recipient: Dr. Raquel M. Ortiz


Dr. Raquel M. Ortiz

Dr. Raquel M. Ortiz is this year’s recipient of the merit-based SCBWI Ohio North Underrepresented Diverse Voices Scholarship. Dr. Ortiz is a cultural anthropologist who shares and celebrates stories about different diasporic Puerto Rican communities. Her stories are ‘mirrors’ and ‘sliding glass doors’ that invite children, and adults, to see themselves, to join in on adventures, and to learn about Puerto Rican art, songs, poetry and histories. In 2015, Arte Público Press published her first picture book Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural that explores the fear of the unknown, inspired by the community mural, El Pueblo Cantor (South Bronx, 1983) that she studied for her PhD. Sofi made the Tejas Star Reading List, received an International Latino Book Award (ILBA) Best Educational Children’s Picture Book award, and was the beginning of a whole new life and career for Dr. Ortiz.

She is a member of SCBWI and is currently working on a middle grade novel that explores folktales and Taíno mythology. Dr. Ortiz applied for the conference scholarship because she really felt a need to connect with and be around people who understand the importance and joy of writing for children. Through the conference, Dr. Ortiz would like to learn more about the middle grade and young adult market. She’s hoping to connect with an agent who would be interested in her bilingual Latinx picture book manuscripts and collection of poetry. She’s looking forward to her critique with award-winning author Dr. Emma Otheguy. 

SCBWI Ohio North is honored to have this opportunity to help amplify Dr. Ortiz’s voice as she pursues her creative goals in children’s literature! 

To learn more about Dr. Ortiz and her work, please visit her website and follow her on social media.




Watch Dr. Ortiz at the Cleveland Museum of Art American Dream Event 

Scholarship Details and Application Process

The 2023 application period is now closed.

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 is pleased to make a 2023 conference scholarship available. This scholarship is open to SCBWI members and non-members.

If the selected recipient is a current SCBWI member, they will receive tuition to the Saturday full-day conference, one faculty critique (written or in-person), and a Friday intensive. 


If the selected recipient is not a current SCBWI member, they will receive tuition to the Saturday full-day conference, one faculty critique (written or in-person), and a 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)


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 2023 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 whether you are a current SCBWI member or not.

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 Monday, June 26. 

Application period ends Monday, July 10 at 11:00 pm eastern. 

Award notices will be made on Wednesday, July 12 at 9 am eastern.