Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship for Emerging Bookseller-Activists

This scholarship and its recipients will celebrate and honor Carla’s boundless enthusiasm for the books themselves, her delight in pairing the right book with the right reader, and her unwavering faith in the bookselling community.

The scholarship includes funds to attend Winter Institute and a fall regional trade show. The bookseller will also be granted funding to support a community outreach project of their own design.

“We are so heartened to see the continuing support for this scholarship program and are excited to help new booksellers imagine ever more ways to engage and inspire their communities.”

—Jenna Johnson (Friends of Carla Gray Committee)

Criteria and Eligibility

Applicant has at least 1 year but fewer than 5 years of bookselling experience.

  • Applicant is willing and able to commit one year to complete the requirements of the scholarship and intends to remain employed at the designated bookstore until the completion of the community outreach project.
  • Applicant’s store meets the criteria of “bookstore” as defined by Binc policies. (Please email if you have a question about your store.)
  • Applicant’s store is a member in good standing of the ABA and their regional trade association.
  • Applicant is a regular part-time or full-time employee of a bricks & mortar bookstore.
  • A maximum of one scholarship will be awarded each year.
  • Applicant may receive this scholarship only once in their tenure as a bookseller.
  • A bookstore may receive this scholarship only once.
  • Bookstore owner agrees to partner on the community outreach project.

Previous Winners

Kay Kerimian

2022 Carla Gray Winner, Kay, is a trans nonbinary career bookseller, who is dedicated to the amplification of literature as profound means of affirmation, empowerment, and reclamation. They believe everyone deserves to see themselves on the shelf, but not everyone has access to books. In a time of rising censorship & legislative violence, LGBTQIA+ people are increasingly more vulnerable in this country, particularly queer and trans youth. When identities are politicized and rights at stake, representation has the power to save lives, that is why, with the help of the Carla Grey Memorial Scholarship for Emerging Bookseller-Activists, they launched The Nonbinarian Book Bike.

Mackenzie Van Engelenhoven

Mackenzie Van Engelenhoven
2021 scholarship winner Mackenzie Van Engelenhoven’s project is a store bookmobile to expand the store’s reach into the community and bring free books to children in outlying areas that have no access to books or can’t afford them. As a long-term goal she wants to gradually expand and reach the ‘Native American reservations in the next five years.’

Miesah Headen

2019 Scholarship winner Miesha Headen will be using the grant to support her work organizing Loganberry’s People of Color Author Showcase. This showcase is held in collaboration with the Great Lakes African American Writers’ Conference and Cleveland Book Week. Among Headen’s goals for the program are to increase the number of readers of diverse literature and to provide a platform for diverse authors in the literary community of Cleveland.

Kelsey Nolan

2018 Kelsey Nolan, scholarship winner and Skylight Books events manager, will be using the $1000 grant to create a 4-6-week intern position. In her two-part plan, Nolan and Skylight will first focus on outreach then hire and train a bookseller from a historically marginalized community. Through outreach and a new paid internship program at Skylight Books, she hopes to begin to address the historic lack of diversity in bookselling.

More About this Unique Scholarship

Hannah Harlow, Jenna Johnson, and MaryBeth Long form the Friends of Carla Gray committee. The result of their focus and energy has produced the creation of a year-long professional development scholarship program that reflects and honors the spirit of Carla and her passion for booksellers and the book industry. This is a first of a kind for the Binc Foundation and we truly believe this opportunity will open the door for connecting a new bookseller to the many possibilities the book industry offers.

“Carla’s career ranged across many aspects of our industry,” the committee said. “But in every incarnation, she was devoted to getting the right book into the ideal reader’s hands. She was also endlessly optimistic about the publishing community and wanted to see it grow in interesting ways. She knew it was up to individuals to keep the books at the center of the work and to take care of each other personally and professionally.

“We want to help emerging booksellers find early opportunities to build a network in the industry, but we also want to help them create innovative, long-term projects that remind readers how central their stores are to the towns and cities they serve,” the committee said. “We’re hopeful that this scholarship supplements the extraordinary peer mentoring and community outreach that’s already a hallmark of the bookstore ethos. And that it will encourage new booksellers to step forward and share their talents and vision.”
The inaugural review committee included the committee founders as well as author Justin Torres, Kate Layte from Papercuts JP, Michael Taeckens of Broadside Expert Literary PR, and one representative from the Binc Foundation’s program committee.

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