Mirrors & Windows Mentorship for Writers of Color Creating Children’s and/or Young Adult Books


The Loft Literary Center

“Mirrors and Windows” Mentorship

A Mentorship Program for Emerging Minnesota Indigenous Writers and Writers of Color Creating Children’s and/or Young Adult Books

The Loft continues its groundbreaking program dedicated to mentoring Indigenous writers and writers of color to write picture books, middle grade, and young adult literature, “Mirrors and Windows”. The name is inspired by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop’s crucial essay, “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors” (1990).

While books for young readers is a thriving sector in publishing, those that are by or about Indigenous people and people of color are significantly underrepresented. 

The Loft will offer six-month mentorships to ten to twelve emerging/early-career Minnesota Indigenous writers and writers of color who are interested in creating children’s and/or young adult (CYA) books. The group will be mentored by diverse published authors of books for children and young readers. 

Winners will be selected by a panel of experienced writers for youth, consisting of the teaching artists for this project. Monthly gatherings during the mentorship period will include workshops on aspects of craft, relevant business issues such as marketing, and life after publishing. The fellows will be encouraged to form their own cohort, which will last beyond the time frame of the grant, as well as be encouraged to teach classes at the Loft and participate in relevant activities. Each fellow will also have the opportunity to submit a manuscript for review by a professional CYA consultant.

Each fellow will also receive a $500 stipend.

This new program will be led by: Loft Program Director Bao Phi, whose debut children’s book, A Different Pond, has received a Caldecott Honor, the Charlotte Zolotow Award, New Author and New Illustrator Honors from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, and six rare starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and others; and Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen, a leading voice in diversifying literature for youth and Associate Professor of Library and Information Science at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, will serve as the program’s community lead. 

Teaching artists will be Dr. Duchess Harris, Cheryl Minnema, Sarah Warren, Marcie Rendon, Tricia Speed Shaskan, Stephen Shaskan, and Vong Bidania. The manuscript consultant will be Molly Beth Griffin.


This program is open to emerging Minnesota Indigenous writers and writers of color. Writers must be living in Minnesota for the duration of the program. Writers cannot have more than two books published, and must not have received a major national writing award. Writers must be at least 18 years of age. Loft staff and board members are not eligible. As independent contractors, Loft teaching artists are eligible. Students in any kind of degree-granting program are ineligible. 

All grantees must be able to attend all workshops to take place at the Loft, room 203, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., on these Saturdays: January 25; February 22; March 21; April 4; May 2; June 6; June 27.


All applications will be accepted through this online portal. Applicants will want to prepare their writing CV, one-page narrative, and writing sample as DOC, DOCX, or PDF documents to attach to their application form. Each application will include:

  • A completed application form in Submittable
  • Writing CV or resume (1–2 pages). This should focus on your writing life (workshops taught, publications if any, spoken word performance engagements, etc)
  • One page narrative on ideas for a CYA manuscript
  • Four–five page writing sample (double-spaced, twelve point font). This can be either from a proposed or previously published work of CYA or an example of the writer’s work outside the realm of CYA.

The deadline to apply is August 22 at 11:59 p.m. However, the Loft office is closed on that day at 5:30 p.m., so please plan accordingly if you need help. Program Director Bao Phi will also be unable to help or answer questions during the week of August 12. We strongly urge you to email and set up an appointment or phone call if you need help, and familiarize yourself with Submittable before the application deadline.

The “Mirrors and Windows” Mentorship is supported by a grant from the Jerome Foundation and by Loft members.


Opportunity Opens

Wednesday, Jul 3rd 2019

Opportunity Closes

Thursday, Aug 22nd 2019, 11:45pm

Application Location

MN Artists