In order to solve what Jason Low of Lee & Low Books called in a release the “pipeline problem,” of getting more people of color into the publishing industry, the publisher has teamed up with the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College to offer a $100,000 scholarship fund to students of color entering graduate studies at the program. The merit-based scholarships will be awarded based on applications, and will complement the college’s existing scholarship funds, including the Virginia Haviland Scholarship.

The scholarship aims to “support students for whom the traditional entrances to publishing remain closed, and thus create a pathway for diverse graduate students to positions in which they can influence what and how children’s literature is created,” the publisher said in a release. The Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College was established in 1977, and offered the first Master of Arts in Children’s Literature degree, as well as the first Master of Fine Arts: Writing for Children degree.

Cathryn M. Mercier, director of the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons, told PW that the fund was created in part to respond to a need she has heard from her students. “Many students want to be able to do internships” as a way of gaining access into the publishing industry, she said, but “unpaid or low-paid internships just may not be possible” for students who also need to afford housing. Mercier hopes the scholarship fund will attract more students interested in the academic study of children’s literature, including teachers and librarians, and those interested in working in the publishing industry, anyone from writers, illustrators, editors, publicists, and more. “We’re very excited about the opportunities that this opens up for our students,” she said.

The scholarship was funded by donations from Lee & Low Books and Simmons College alumni. The first recipients will be chosen for fall 2016.