About The Fund

The Visual Storytellers Community Fund was established in 2013 by Jessey Dearing and Lauren Frohne, and is entirely funded by alumni and friends of the UNC-Chapel Hill Visual Communication program. It is currently granted out-of-pocket by alumni each year with the help of the School of Media and Journalism.

We are working toward the minimum $25,000 required to establish an endowment. After that point, the fund will be a permanent, named, self-sustaining annual scholarship of $1,000. Included in the scholarship is the opportunity for mentorship from UNC alumni during and after their CPJW project. The scholarship is awarded based on both financial need and merit.

Our Philosophy

We believe that young alumni should feel empowered to give back to the Journalism School and stay connected to the robust and talented UNC community.

As young alumni of the Journalism School, we both received a huge amount of support while we were students through scholarships, grants, awards, references and mentorship. This support has directly contributed to all of the internships, jobs, opportunities, awards and recognition we’ve earned in our young careers. We were given so much that we want to pass that support on to others. And we believe many young alumni feel the same way we do.

We believe the School of Media and Journalism at UNC offers students unique opportunities to build and pursue professional work experience that is unmatched at other institutions. School-sponsored, extracurricular projects, such as the Carolina Photojournalism Workshop (CPJW), international summer/spring break projects, and Powering a Nation have enormous impact on young careers. But those opportunities are becoming more and more expensive. They require additional tuition, taking out loans, or robust portfolios even to be chosen to participate.

Why CPJW?

We chose to focus this scholarship on supporting students to participate in CPJW because it is a project that almost anyone is able to participate in if they apply. Unlike other projects that are competitive and usually granted to students who have already established a portfolio and relationships with professors, CPJW is a gateway for students to explore what facets of visual communication they would like to pursue. It helps steer careers or lock in aspirations. It is a unique opportunity for students to elevate their portfolios and build relationships with peers and mentors that can have a lasting impact on their young careers.

Mentorship is as important as money

Mentorship and community are key components for success. Our collective knowledge and experience as young alumni navigating this swiftly changing media landscape is an untapped and valuable resource. Each of us is pursuing different niches of this industry, from mainstream media outlets to web startups to narrative film, commercial work and freelance. We are each others’ best resources. Through the community-building side of this scholarship, we hope to leverage this range of experience to support students and recent graduates as well as each other as we pursue the work we are passionate about.