Braille Monitor                  January 2022

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Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship

by Tracy Soforenko

Tracy SoforenkoFrom the Editor: Tracy is a member of our national board of directors and is the president of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia. He is also the chairman of the Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund, and it is in this capacity that he writes:

Have you always wanted to attend an NFB annual convention but have not done so because of the lack of funds? The Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund invites you to make an application for a scholarship grant. Perhaps this July you too can be in the Marriott New Orleans enjoying the many pleasures and learning opportunities at the largest and most important yearly convention of blind people in the world.

The three biggest ticket items you need to cover when attending an NFB national convention are the roundtrip transportation, the hotel room for a week, and the food (which tends to be higher priced than at home). We attempt to award additional funds to families, but, whether a family or an individual is granted a scholarship, this fund can only help; it won’t pay all the costs. Most years, the grants have been in the range of $400 to $500 per individual.

We recommend that you find an NFB member as your personal convention mentor, someone who has been to many national conventions and is able to share money-saving tips with you and tips on navigating the extensive agenda in the big hotel. Your mentor will help you get the most out of the amazing experience that is convention week.

Who is eligible?

Active NFB members blind or sighted who have not yet attended an in-person NFB national convention because of lack of funding are eligible to apply. If you have attended the 2020 or 2021 virtual conventions but have never attended an in-person convention, you are still eligible to apply.

How do I apply for funding assistance?

This year we will be accepting applications online. Since applications must be completed in a single session online, we strongly recommend you prepare your responses in a document, and then cut and paste your responses into the application form. The application form does not support complex formatting, so we recommend avoiding formatting such as bullet points and fonts/styles.

Effective January 1, 2022, the application form can be found at the following link: https://nfb.org/form/kenneth-jernigan-convention-scho?q=form%2Fkenneth-jernigan-convention-scho

The application will ask for the following information:

If you cannot apply online, you can still apply by writing a letter to your state affiliate president answering the above questions. This letter should be emailed to your state affiliate president. Once you have decided you will apply, please contact your state president in person or by phone to request his or her help in obtaining funding. Be sure to tell the state affiliate president when to expect that your application will be submitted and mention the deadline.

Once your application has been submitted, your application will be provided to your state president via email. It is still your responsibility to contact your affiliate president. He or she must email a president’s recommendation directly to the Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund Committee at [email protected]. Your president must email the recommendation no later than the deadline of April 15, 2022. If you have applied outside of the online form, the state affiliate president must email both the recommendation and the application letter.

Notification of Award

If you are chosen to receive this scholarship, you will receive a letter with convention details that should answer most of your questions. The committee makes every effort to notify winners by May 15, but you must do several things before that to be prepared to attend if you are chosen:

Receiving the Award

At the convention, you will be given a debit card or credit card loaded with the amount of your award. The times and locations to pick up your card will be listed in the letter we send you. The committee is not able to provide funds before the convention, so work with your chapter and state affiliate to assist you by obtaining an agreement to advance funds if you win a scholarship, and to pay your treasury back after you receive your debit or credit card.

More Information

For additional information, please contact the chairman of the Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund Committee, Tracy Soforenko, at [email protected] or 410-659-9314, extension 2020.

Above all, please use this opportunity to attend your first convention on the national level and join several thousand active Federationists in the most important meeting of the blind in the world. We hope to see you in New Orleans.

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