We Need Diverse Books, the grassroots organization that has for the past year advocated for more diversity both in contemporary literature and in the industry itself, announced Wednesday its first annual WNDB Publishing Internship Project recipients. WNDB’s internship committee, headed by author Linda Sue Park, selected five multicultural interns, who each will receive a $2,500 stipend from WNDB for living expenses while interning this summer at a New York City publishing house in a children’s publishing imprint. Additional mentoring will also be made available to the interns from WNDB’s team of authors and publishing industry professionals, as well as the Children’s Book Council.

During a May 29 panel discussion on diversity issues that took place during BEA, Park pointed out, first, that employees at the major houses in New York City are much less racially diverse than the country as a whole, and, second, that many of these publishing industry professionals started out as interns and worked their way up through the ranks from there. “If we could diversify the interns,” she said, “hopefully some of them will stick around long enough to eventually be in positions of power: acquisition and sales and marketing.” It’s essential, she said, “to diversify every layer we can along the way” in the book publishing pipeline: from agents and publishers to librarians and booksellers.

This summer’s WNDB Publishing Internship Project recipients are:

Julie Jarema, Bard College, who accepted an internship with Simon and Schuster.

Feather Flores, Pomona College, who accepted an internship with HarperCollins.

Kandace Coston, Barnard College/Columbia University, who accepted an internship with Lee & Low Books.

Esther Cajahuaringa, Teachers College/Columbia University, who accepted an internship with Hachette Book Group.

Yananisai Makuwa, Cornell University, who accepted an internship with Macmillan.

In a release, WNDB representatives stated that the organization hopes that the program will “allow for greater networking and opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds seeking to enter children’s publishing.”