Say hello to this year’s FIYAH Grants recipients! This group of creatives, scholars, and activists have poured themselves into their work, demonstrating their personal strengths as well as the potential in each of us. Learn more about our winners and what projects they’re working on:
Craft Grant: Sean Teneo
“Let me say first that I’m extremely honored to have been chosen for the FIYAH grant. I’m 32 years old and was born in Maryland, but my father was in the military so we moved around a bit. I went from Prince George County, Maryland to a five year stretch in England and finally a return to the US in Raleigh, North Carolina. I spent my teenage years in Raleigh, graduating from high school and entering into adulthood.
“I began writing in junior high school. It was only bits and pieces of creative fiction alongside schoolwork, but I started writing seriously when I got to high school. I spent years in writing groups online, writing hobbyist pieces for myself, and reading all kinds of books. I began the project I’m currently working on as a sophomore in school, but I only ironed everything out and wrote it with conviction in 2019.
“I’ve moved to Virginia in the years since and I have a fiancé and two kids now. I work during the day and take care of my family, but I dedicate my free time to working on my debut novel and series and I will be self-publishing this year.”
Study Grant: Kel Coleman
Kel Coleman is a mom, editor, and Ignyte-nominated author. Their fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in FIYAH, Anathema: Spec from the Margins, Apparition Lit, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2022, and others. Though Kel is a Marylander at heart, they currently reside in Pennsylvania with their husband, tiny human, and stuffed dragon named Pen. They can be found at kelcoleman.com and on Twitter at @kcolemanwrites.
Rest Grant: Dennis R. Upkins
Dennis R. Upkins is a speculative fiction author, digital artist, model, activist, journalist, and a lifelong comic book geek. His first two YA novels, Hollowstone and West of Sunset, were released through Parker Publishing. Both Upkins and his previous work have been featured in Harvard Political Law, Bitch Media, MTV News, Mental Health Matters, Nerds of Color, Prism Comics, Comicbookdotcom, Geeks OUT, Black Power: The Superhero Anthology, The Connect Magazine, OUTvoices, Yoppvoices, Sniplits, and Spyfunk: Anthology. When he isn’t busy working (which is almost never) he enjoys raising money and donating to notable charities such as the St. Jude’s Hospital, the Wounded Warrior Project, Black Lives Matter, and Youth PRIDE. A compulsive high performing overachiever, The personal mantra for Upkins can be summed up in four simple words: Be Your Own Superhero.
Emergency Grant: Keith Kinambuga Ndenga
Keith Kinambuga is a novelist, screenwriter and the founder of Kenya Scriptwriters Guild. His film concept, The Rebirth of Syokimau, won the #BestScriptKE National Scriptwriting Competition in 2020. He was also a B2W (bang2write) SciFi Logline Challenge Finalist in May 2022.
Keith has self-published three novels: I’m Not A Black Widow But I Spin Webs; The Black Algorithm; and How I Did Not Become An Uber Driver. His short story, “The Great Defeat,” earned a Special Mention in South Africa’s All About Writing Courses March/April Writing Challenge 2017.
Keith has a Bachelor of Science degree in Telecommunication and I.T. from Kenyatta University and Certificate in Television and Radio Production from the Kenya Institute of Professional Studies.
Emergency Grant: Yefon Isabelle
Yefon Isabelle is a Cameroonian writer from the Northwest Anglophone Region of Cameroon. She writes poetry, science fiction, and fantasy. She has published, short stories, and poetry books.
Yefon’s works also appear in Anthologies like “Bearing Witness: Poems from a land in turmoil”, “Raising voices for peace.”, and “The Savannah Poetry Anthology of Contemporary African Writers.” She won first prize for the 2019 Southern Cameroons Poetry Award.
Yefon is an avid reader, a cultural aesthete, an Astrophile who loves studying the skies, and taking long walks in nature.
The next window for grant applications will open early 2023. Please watch our social media channels and subscribe to the FIYAH newsletter for updates.