It’s our long tradition at the DWPC to provide scholarships to promising female college students enrolled in academic writing programs, including journalism, creative writing, and poetry. DWPC member Gail Beaton wrote a history of our scholarship programs. Read below.

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This month we again hold a celebration for the winners of our various DWPC scholarships. Annually we award the Ruth Murray Underhill Award to a CU graduate student for outstaying merit in creative writing; the Frances Belford Wayne Merit Award given for outstanding journalistic abilities; and the Scholastic Art and Writing Award to talented high school students. Frances Wayne, “Pinky”, as she was known, pioneered “embedded reporting” when she lived with the striking miners’ families during the Ludlow coal miners’ strike of 1914. Read Debra Faulkner’s biography of this feisty journalist.

Past winners of the Wayne Award include Lavonne Luquis Shelton (1987), previously with the US Patent and Trademark Office, currently blogging about life aboard a 45 foot sailboat; Marsha Piccone (1982), Colorado Appellate and Trial Attorney; Alyssas Hurst (2011), Senior Communications Specialist at Children’s Hospital; and Hayley Sanchez (2015), host and editor at Colorado Public Radio. Previous winners of the Ruth Underhill Award include Sybil Baker (1990), professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; and Sandra Dorr, owner of Women’s Wilderness Writing.

Frances Belford Wayne

Frances Belford Wayne (1870-1951) was a real-life prototype for fictional plucky female reporters like Lois Lane and Brenda Starr.  Dubbed “Pinky” for her strawberry-blonde hair, Wayne’s early years were spent in then-booming Central City, where her father, James B. Belford, was a Territorial Supreme Court Judge. When he was elected Colorado’s first representative to the U.S. House,  the family’s move to Washington, D.C., opened young Frances’ eyes to the realms of public service and politics.

Frances returned to Colorado, initially working for the Rocky Mountain News but soon lured to the Denver Post. Pinky had a way with words and a talent for tugging readers’ heartstrings. Her passionate and persuasive stories engendered many significant reforms during the Progressive Era, including the establishment of the juvenile justice system and more humane treatment for inmates of the State Psychopathic Hospital.  She championed Emily Griffith’s Opportunity School, the nation’s first public school for adults. Frances pioneered “embedded reporting” when she lived with the striking workers’ families during the Ludlow coal miners’ strike of 1914.

Frances loved Christmas. She spearheaded the Post’s annual “Big Brothers, Big Sisters” holiday-season charity drive which provided warm winter clothing for the city’s needy children.  It was also a Frances Wayne campaign that led to the establishment of Denver’s holiday lighting displays, one of the first in the country.

As an early member of the Denver Woman’s Press Club, Frances was instrumental in fundraising efforts to purchase the group’s clubhouse.  She served as our 10th President from 1916-1918 and was awarded Honorary Membership in 1931.

When the new Post editor criticized her lack of objectivity and demanded her resignation, Pinky let him have it – and NOT the resignation. She was fired at the age of 76 for an “altercation in the newsroom” after more than 40 years of service. Rather than taking the opportunity to retire, Wayne returned to her hometown to co-edit the Central City Register-Call until she lost her long battle with cancer at age 81. One of the DWPC’s annually awarded journalism scholarships is named in honor of this feisty crusading journalist.