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Our Scholarship Program aims to nourish a vibrant literary culture by providing support to a diverse group of teachers, librarians, and readers while promoting the work of new voices in American literature. There are three main funding opportunities:

Emerging Writer Awards

We offer three Emerging Writer Awards each year. These awards recognize and support writers who possess exceptional talent and demonstrate potential for lasting literary careers. Winners of the the Scotti Merrill Memorial Award, the Cecelia Joyce Johnson Award, and the Marianne Russo Award receive full tuition to our January seminar and workshop program, round-trip airfare, full lodging support, a $500 honorarium, and the opportunity to appear on stage during the Seminar.

Poets and writers who have not yet published a book with a major publisher are eligible to apply. Runners-up for each award will also receive financial assistance.

Click here for Emerging Writer Award application guidelines.

Scholarships for Teachers & Librarians

We offer twenty full scholarships for national teachers and librarians who wish to attend our annual Seminar (January 12-15, 2016). We seek a diverse group of individuals who are making positive impacts upon readers in their communities; and we hope that participation in our literary community will inspire fresh engagement with literature in schools and libraries around the country. Financial assistance for lodging is also available.

We also provide scholarships to teachers, librarians, and students in our community through arrangements with Key West High School, the Key West Public Library, and Florida Keys Community College.

Click here for Teachers & Librarians Scholarship application guidelines.

Workshop Financial Assistance

Twenty-four Financial Assistance Scholarships are available to writers who wish to participate in our Writers’ Workshop Program. We hope to support the development of diverse new voices in American literature and provide opportunities to those who may not otherwise be able to afford the cost of attendance.

Financial assistance is chiefly given in the form of fee reductions, and the amount awarded is determined in part by financial need.

A limited number of work-study opportunities are also available. Work-study duties include assisting KWLS staff at check-in and orientation and supporting faculty with daily set-up and break-down. Work-study participants receive full scholarships and financial assistance for lodging.

Click here for Workshop Financial Assistance application guidelines.

Liz Lear Scholarship

The Liz Lear Scholarship provides full tuition to the Key West Literary Seminar and/or a writers’ workshop. It is awarded each year to a reader who lives in the Florida Keys and would not otherwise be able to afford the cost of admission. Anyone who is a year-round resident of the Keys is eligible to apply.

Guidelines for the Liz Lear scholarship will be available Fall 2016. 


Who makes this possible

Since 2008, we have provided more than 390 individuals with nearly $365,000 in fee waivers and lodging and travel assistance. Our ability to do so is made possible by hundreds of individual members of the Seminar community, and by a handful of remarkably generous donors.

We are grateful to audience members who support our operations by paying full fees to attend the Seminar and Workshop Program. We are also indebted to the writers who appear on our stage, often at a fraction of their usual fee. Teacher and librarian scholarships are made possible by generous support from Judy Blume’s Kids Fund. The Merrill Award is fully funded by an endowment established by Holly Merrill and the Dogwood Foundation. The Johnson and Russo awards are supported by gifts from Cecelia Joyce & Seward Johnson, and Peyton Evans. General Financial Assistance scholarships are funded by the many generous members of our Patrons Circle.

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