MasterWP Launches 2023 WordCamp US Travel Program with Grants for Underrepresented Speakers

The call for speaker applications for WordCamp US 2023, which will take place from August 23-25 in National Harbor, is now open. To encourage a more diverse pool of applicants, MasterWP has launched its travel grant program for the event, which will provide over $10,000 in grants for members of underrepresented groups who are accepted to speak. The program paid for seven speakers and organizers from underrepresented groups attending WCUS in San Diego in 2022 and aims to support more speakers this year. The Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship is also available to WordPress contributors who identify as women, have never attended WCUS, and require financial assistance to attend. The scholarship covers travel expenses.

WordCamps have recently come under scrutiny for their lack of diversity in speaker lineups. WordCamp Europe has been criticized for its response to criticism about the lack of diversity in its early speaker announcements. The event has a speaker support program that connects speakers to companies for financial support but is not involved in the selection process. Only 25% of the speakers announced for #WCEU are women, and only three appear to be non-white.

In response to the growing dissatisfaction with speaker diversity at WordCamps, WordPress companies have created their own means of supporting the diversity they hope to see at events. MasterWP’s travel grant program was created as an independent initiative and is not affiliated with WordCamp or The WordPress Foundation. The program aims to address the economic barriers that prevent some people from participating in the career-growth opportunity of attending a major WordCamp.

StellarWP director of community engagement and WP Speakers project creator Michelle Frechette believes that inclusion is the future of WordPress. “If we want to build WordPress for the next generation, we need to be inclusive,” she said. “The next generation is already demanding it. Inclusion is the future. Without it we are irrelevant.”

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