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 Orlando, Florida. At the 2012 convention in Dallas we were able to assist sixty-three people. In 2013 our convention will begin on Monday, July 1, and run through Saturday, July 6. The convention is a day shorter than you might expect, ending with the banquet Saturday evening.
Who is eligible to receive a Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship? If you are a member of the National Federation of the Blind who has not yet attended a national convention, you are eligible to apply.
What do I have to do to apply for a Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship? You must do the following and are responsible for meeting these application requirements:
1. Each individual who applies for a Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship must write a letter to the selection committee. You will send your letter of application to your NFB state affiliate president. A list of state presidents is posted on the NFB website <www.nfb.org>. He or she will forward your completed application, along with his or her recommendation, to the committee at <[email protected]>. You and your state president should make contact by telephone so that he or she is well aware of your financial need and your wish to attend the convention in Orlando. If you have questions, you may also send a message to the Kenneth Jernigan Scholarship chairman by addressing your email to the scholarship submission email address.
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 contribute and receive at the convention.
3. You must register for and attend the entire convention, including the banquet.
What else must I do to insure that my application will be considered? We must have all of the following information:
1. Your full name
2. Your address
3. Your telephone numbers (home, business, and cell)
4. Your email address (if you have one)
5. Your state president's name and the name of your local chapter, if you attend one
All applications must be received by April 15, 2013.
How do I get my scholarship funds? You will get a debit card at the convention loaded with the amount of your scholarship award. The times and locations to pick up your debit card 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 you 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. 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 mid-May, you must make plans to attend and then adjust your arrangements accordingly.
Last summer in Dallas the Jernigan Fund scholarship committee awarded sixty-three Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarships. Grants ranged from $400 to $500. The amount we can give will depend on the funds available; we attempt to award additional funds to families. You can include in your letter to the committee any special 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) 520-9979 or email him at <[email protected]>. We look forward to seeing you in Orlando.