by Allen Harris
From the Editor: Allen Harris chairs the Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund committee. He has an important announcement for those who would like to attend this year's national convention but find themselves short of funds. This is what he says:
The Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund is looking for individuals who can use some financial assistance to attend our national convention in Detroit, Michigan. In 2009 our convention will begin on Friday, July 3, and run through Wednesday, July 8. This is an entirely different schedule, and the convention is a day shorter, ending with the banquet Wednesday evening.
Who is eligible to receive a Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship?
If you are a member of the National Federation of the Blind, you are eligible to apply. However, preference will be given to first-time convention attendees. The scholarship selection committee is able to make an occasional exception, but first-time convention participants are the target group.
What do I have to do to apply for a Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship?
You must do the following and are responsible for these application requirements:
1. Find out who your state NFB president is and get him or her to write a letter of recommendation for you, or you may have a chapter president or other officer write a letter of recommendation, but we must have a letter from a Federation leader who is familiar with you.
2. You must write a letter to the Kenneth Jernigan Fund committee expressing the reasons why you want a scholarship. Describe your participation in the Federation and what you think you would get and give to the convention. Please send all information to Allen Harris, 219 Meadows Drive, Birmingham, Alabama 35235, or email the information to <[email protected]>.
3. You must register for and attend the entire convention, including the banquet.
How do I get my scholarship funds?
You will get cash at the convention. The times and locations will be listed in the notice you receive if you are a scholarship winner. The committee is not able to provide funds before the convention, so work with your chapter and state affiliate to assist by advancing funds you can pay back when you receive your scholarship.
When will I know if I have been selected as a Kenneth Jernigan Scholarship winner?
The committee makes every effort to notify scholarship winners by May 15, but you must do several things to be prepared to attend if you are chosen:
1. You must make your own hotel reservation. If something prevents you from attending, you can cancel your reservation.
2. You will receive a letter with the convention details, which should answer many of your questions. It is also helpful to find a mentor from your chapter or affiliate to act as a friend and advisor during the convention. Although you will not know officially whether or not you have been selected until early May, you must make plans to attend and then adjust your plans accordingly.
This past summer in Dallas the Jernigan Fund Scholarship committee awarded sixty Kenneth Jernigan Scholarships. The average grant was $600. You can include in your letter to the committee any circumstances which the committee may choose to take into consideration. Above all, please use this opportunity to attend your first convention and join several thousand other blind Federationists in the most important meeting of the blind in the world.If you have questions or need additional information, call Allen Harris at (205) 655-8221 or email him at <[email protected]>. You may also email Joy Harris at <[email protected]>. We look forward to seeing you in Detroit and enjoying convention with you and all of our fellow Federationists.