CHICAGO — The Seattle chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) has been named the 2008 Chapter of the Year, recognizing its success in establishing a $100,000 endowment for minority journalism scholarships.
Sanjay Bhatt, AAJA Seattle Chapter Co-President, accepted the award on behalf of the chapter. Bhatt co-chaired the past two years’ endowment campaigns, which culminated last year with a record-setting $45,000 in donations. The typical individual donation was $100, but people gave as little as $10 and as much as $7,500.
“I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of all AAJA Seattle members, who have demonstrated their commitment to encouraging tomorrow’s journalists of color,” Bhatt said. “I also want to thank all of our donors, whose generosity allowed us to achieve our vision.”
The endowment supports AAJA Seattle’s Northwest Journalists of Color (NJC) program. The NJC scholarship was started in 1986 by local leaders like Lori Matsukawa (KING TV), who raised $5,000 each year to fund the scholarships. NJC has awarded scholarships to more than 100 student journalists. NJC alumni have gone on to work at major news organizations, such as The Seattle Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press, CBS News and Sony Pictures.
The endowment drive kicked off four years ago under the leadership of then-AAJA Seattle Chapter President Sharon Chan, who is running for AAJA National President. Seattle’s success story can be replicated, says Chan, who will lead a national AAJA endowment campaign dubbed “The Power of One.”
“What Seattle’s success simply shows,” Bhatt said, “is that individuals — co-workers, friends and family — support diversity in our profession. It’s our job to give them a concrete way to express that belief in our mission.”