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The Sacramento Press Club’s 2017 Journalism Scholarships

  • New Online Application Process (see below for details and link)
  • Application Window – January 1 through March 31
  • Read Requirements and Gather Materials Before Beginning Application Process

In 2017, the Sacramento Press Club will be awarding seven scholarships totaling $34,000. Our scholarship program began in 1974 with a single $1,000 scholarship in honor of Earl “Squire” Behrens. In the past 40 years, we have given away more than $300,000 – a significant amount of assistance that has helped many young students on their way to successful journalism careers. If you would like to make a donation to the SPC Scholarship Fund, please click on the red Donate box on this page.

About our 2017 Scholarships
Students submit a single application to be considered for all of the scholarships described below.

$8,000 in honor of the late Earl “Squire” Behrens, a former political editor of the San Francisco Chronicle who covered the state Capitol for a half-century. His “Political Notes” column was considered groundbreaking.

$6,000 in honor of the late Jean Stephens, the long-time Secretary-Treasurer of the Sacramento Press Club and a retired Sacramento City College journalism instructor who helped thousands of journalism students become professional journalists over a 30-year career.

$4,000 in honor of Dan Walters, political columnist for the Sacramento Bee who has worked as a journalist for more than a half-century. His column appears in more than 50 California newspapers. In addition to writing and contributing to political books, he serves as a frequent guest on national television news shows. Dan has generously supported the Sacramento Press Club scholarship program and helped many students realize their dreams of becoming reporters.

$4,000 in honor of the late Jerry Gillam, a 35-year veteran of the Capitol press corps. He is remembered for his knowledgeable political reporting in the Los Angeles Times’ Sacramento bureau, his friendly mentoring of new Capitol reporters and his larger-than-life sense of humor. Gillam started covering government for the Copley News Service, and for much of his Capitol career, he covered the California State Assembly including the Legislature’s transition to a full-time body.

$4,000 in honor of the late Nereida Skelton. Nereida was a beloved journalism teacher for more than four decades. She was the advisor to the McClatchy High School student newspaper, where she often worked long hours and served as a mentor to outstanding students. Her straightforward approach to news and politics also had influence across the nation, as her husband George called her his “secret editor” for his widely read Los Angeles Times political column. Community college students who are transferring to a four-year college will be given special consideration for this scholarship.

$4,000 in honor of Steve Swatt, a Sacramento-based author, political analyst and journalist who spent 23 years at KCRA, Sacramento’s NBC affiliate, covering politics, government and public policy. Before joining KCRA, Steve was a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner and United Press International. For many years, Steve held the distinction of being California’s only full-time television reporter covering the State Capitol. His reporting has won numerous awards, including a Northern California Emmy. In 2016, Steve was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (S.F./Northern California Chapter) Silver Circle, recognizing his contributions to the television industry and his community. Steve currently hosts Comcast Newsmakers, a public affairs interview program that airs throughout California.

$4,000 in honor of the late Julie Soderlund. Known to the Capitol press corps as “Thumbs” for her speedy typing during media scrums outside Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office, Julie Soderlund was respected by reporters and colleagues alike for her professionalism, her work ethic and her talent. During her time in Sacramento, Julie held various positions such as Governor Schwarzenegger’s Deputy Press Secretary, Press Secretary for his re-election campaign, Deputy Campaign Manager for Communications for Carly Fiorina’s U.S. Senate campaign and junior partner of Wilson-Miller Communications. In 2012, Julie accepted a position with an international company based in Lausanne, Switzerland; once there, she quickly rose to the position of Vice President of Communications. Julie passed away on April 28, 2016, due to complications associated with Stage IV melanoma; she was 38 years old.

1. Applicants must be college students who will be juniors, seniors or graduate students for at least one term in the 2017/18 academic year.
2. Applicants must have a connection to the 9-county Sacramento region (Sacramento, Yolo, San Joaquin, El Dorado, Placer, Sutter, Yuba, Nevada and Butte counties). There are three ways to meet this criteria. Applicants only need to meet ONE of the following categories in order to qualify:
a. Students from the Sacramento region (counties specified above)
b. Students enrolled in a Sacramento region college or university (SF Bay Area colleges/universities are not included in the Sacramento region)
c. Students who can show a demonstrated interest in covering news of the Sacramento region. This can include clips documenting your coverage of state political news or any issue that you believe ties into the region. Please explain in your cover letter.

Please read the requirements below and gather the materials required before beginning our online application process. You will need to create a Google Drive shared folder of work samples and you may need to scan documents so they are in a digital form that can be uploaded. Although you may begin the application, exit without completing it and return to it at a later date, partial applications are only saved for 30 days. The deadline for applying is midnight March 31, 2017.
Below are the documents and information you need to provide during the application process.

1. Your current contact information. Provide your name, address, email and phone number. Please be sure that email and phone contacts are how you can be reached directly.
2. Cover letter. Provide a brief letter (one or two pages) explaining your motivation for a career in journalism, what you have already done to prepare for your career, and any related experience outside the classroom. The letter should also address your financial need for the scholarship and describe how you meet the eligibility requirements, including how you qualify as connecting to the Sacramento region if you are not from Sacramento or attending a Sacramento institution (see Eligibility above for details on qualifying).
3. Your GPA. You will be asked to provide your cumulative GPA for all college-level coursework taken to date.
4. Your current transcript. The transcript will document the classes you have taken and verify the GPA you provide on the application form. This can be a computer printout from your college/university’s online system or an official transcript. You will need to scan the document into a digital format that can be uploaded.
5. Five samples of your work. Please create a Google Drive folder that has five samples of your best work. Samples can be audio, video and/or print files. Be sure to keep accessibility open on this folder from January 1 through June 1 so our judges can review the material. You will be asked to provide the link to this Google Drive folder as part of the application process.
6. Acceptance letter. If you will be enrolled in a different college/university in 2017/18 than the one you are now attending, you will be asked to upload your acceptance letter. If you have not yet been accepted, please be prepared to bring an acceptance letter to your interview if you are selected as a finalist.

In addition to the online process, you are required to have a letter of recommendation from a teacher, academic advisor or journalism workplace supervisor. Please request that the person either email the letter of recommendation to or mail it to Sacramento Press Club Scholarship Recommendation, 2701 K Street, Sacramento CA 95816. The letter of recommendation must be received by the March 31st deadline.

Click to access the online application.

Journalistic achievement to date, career promise, academic record and economic need.
Entries must be submitted online by midnight March 31, 2017. When you complete your application, you will see a screen verifying that the submission has been successful. Within 24 hours, an email also will be sent verifying submission.

Please do not wait until the last minute to gather all of the appropriate materials. Because many fields are marked “required,” you will not be able to complete the online application if you discover at 11:45 p.m. on March 31 that you are missing a necessary document.

Finalists will be chosen from the pool of applicants by mid-April. Interviews with the finalists will be scheduled for late April with a panel of judges selected by the Sacramento Press Club. We can conduct interviews with finalists via Skype or speakerphone if you do not currently reside in the Sacramento region. Winners will be determined and notified immediately following the interviews.

Scholarships will be awarded at our May luncheon. It is our hope (but not required) that the recipients will join us as our guests so that Sacramento Press Club members can meet the winners of scholarships that they have made possible with their contributions.

Questions? Contact us at or call us at 916-234-3876.

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