Cynthia Hayes Memorial Scholarship

The Southeastern African American Farmers’ Organic Network (SAAFON), the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), and Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) have partnered together to create a scholarship in memory of Cynthia Hayes, co-founder and former director of SAAFON. Cynthia was a founder of the first network for African American organic farmers in the U.S. and dedicated her life to serving these communities. Spending time on her grandmother’s farm in Kentucky as a young person, she learned about her family’s history of over 80 years of tobacco farming. This laid the foundation for the work she would spend her life doing. Cynthia would go on to work in non-profits in the Bay Area, using her talents to support grant writing efforts and working in group homes before relocating with her husband to Jamaica where she began working directly with farmers. In 2000 Cynthia moved to Savannah, GA where her work centered on land, environmental justice and the plight of African American farmers. In addition to SAAFON, Cynthia was a founding member of several other non-profit organizations and programs that worked to build power among Black growers. Her impact and leadership were honored with several prestigious awards including the 2013 James Beard Award and the 2013 Southern Foodways Alliance John Egerton Award. Cynthia was an inspirational force in the development of NSAC’s equity platform and initiatives that followed. Her legacy lives on in the work that continues, and we hope to honor her vision with this scholarship empowering younger generations to continue this work.

This year, three students (one graduate and two undergraduate students) will receive $5,000 scholarship awards each, along with opportunities to engage with sustainable agriculture advocates and practitioners. Applications open on April 18, 2022, and close on June 20, 2022.

Scholarship eligibility requirements:

  • This scholarship is open to students who self-identify as Black and/or Indigenous
  • Students should have an interest in grassroots organizing, movement building, or agricultural policy and a commitment to promoting racial equity in our food and farm system
  • You must be a MANRRS member (either independent or university affiliated) enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program, seeking a degree
  • You must be a student in good standing (2.5 minimum GPA)
  • PhD students are not eligible to apply

Applications open on April 18 and close on June 20

  1. Complete application

    You can find the application at the below link:

  2. Submit application

    Submit completed application through the portal by the June 20th deadline.

  3. Any questions?

    Email with any questions you may have about the application process or required materials