In memory of John Rooney the Youth Media Alliance and TAAFI have established the John Rooney Creator Fund to support LGBTQ2S+ talent in children's, youth and family  animation.


One outstanding Canadian candidate will be selected for the content development stream while up to two (2) candidates will be selected for the scriptwriting stream. The Fund enables scriptwriting stream recipients to participate in a writers’ summit for a television series, and for the content development winner to pitch their content at conferences of their choosing throughout the year.

  • CONTENT DEVELOPMENT (1 Creator):  The winner will receive $5,000 (CAD) for mentorship from industry professionals for creative development which can be spent on contracting professional resources for the creation of their concept and for travel and registration costs which will allow the winner to network at conferences that align with their career goals. The objective of this stream is to expedite the winner’s journey to becoming an established content creator.
  • SCRIPTWRITING (2 Writers):  Each successful candidate will be placed in a writing room for a show in production. The purpose of this placement is for the candidate to gain an understanding of the script writing process, how stories are developed for series, and if possible, contribute to the room creatively. The Fund will cover a maximum of 10 working days, at $250 per day, for a total allocation of $2,500 per writer. The objective of this stream is to expose a writer to a professional writer’s room to experience the dynamic between writers, story editors, commissioning broadcasters and other participants in the scripting process.

At the completion of each project, all grant recipients may be asked to write a brief overview of their experience, for use in reporting or as a YMA blog post.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Opens Dec 20 2023 to January 21 2024


Submit an application - scriptwriter     Submit an application - content creator




  1. Must be Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are at least 18 years old at the time of applying, and who show a passion for children’s, youth, and family animation.
  2. Self-identify as a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community,
  3. Be an individual, not a company,
  4. Must provide a resumé of their experience.
  5. Must be an emerging creator,
  6. Application form must be submitted to the YMA by January 16, 2024.
  7. Must provide a letter of reference. Optionally, the applicant may also provide additional letters from members of the children’s, youth or family media industry where they have worked or held paid or unpaid jobs.
  8. Applicants must submit a brief essay outlining their specific interest in the children’s entertainment, television or digital media industries and how the JRCF would benefit their career.
  9. For applicants for the Content Development Stream: One sample of your work (1-page minimum) that you would like to develop and pitch which will be presented to Selection Committee members during a videoconference.
  10. For applicants for the Scriptwriting Stream: One sample of your work (ie. the best five-page excerpt from your script, outline, short script, short story, comic book, etc.)
  11. A final report (200 words) about your JRCF participant experience, to be submitted within one year or receiving the scholarship.


Selection Process:

A Committee of Youth Media Alliance members and industry professionals will evaluate all applications and select the top outstanding recipients.

Applicants will be notified end of February 2024

About John Rooney

John Rooney, the Executive Director at Toronto Animation Arts Festival International and a tireless supporter of animation and kids media passed away in 2020.

Many remember John as a kind, smart and exceptionally giving personality whose love of cartoons was infectious. He was also a passionate advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion and a champion of LGBTQ2S+ representation in programming.

John was a friend to the Youth Media Alliance, most recently serving on the Advisory Committee and as Jury President for the Awards of Excellence. He was always looking to create bridges and access for marginalized voices. John was the quintessential caring connector, someone who always found time to support emerging talent because he understood that for the future to brighten, new voices needed to be heard.

About Toronto Animation Arts Festival International (TAAFI)

Founded in 2012, the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International (TAAFI) is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is to make Toronto the leading international destination for animation arts and entertainment.

TAAFI organizes a film festival and various recurring industry and public events throughout the year to create unique opportunities for animation artists and enthusiasts to meet and transform the way people create and view animation products in all their forms.


This Scholarship has been made possible thanks to the following financial partners:

  • Andrew Shenkman
  • Apartment 11 Productions
  • Big Bad Boo Studios
  • Brenda Bisner
  • Christin Simms
  • Corus Entertainment
  • eOne
  • Eryk Casemiro
  • Fresh TV
  • Friends & Enemies
  • J.J. Johnson
  • Jason Bailey
  • Jessica McLaughlin
  • Little Engines Moving Pictures
  • marblemedia
  • Marie McCann
  • Rick Clodfelter
  • Sinking Ship Entertainment
  • Tammy Semen
  • Youth Media Alliance
  • 9 Story Media Group Inc.

Past Recipients


Content Development Stream: Daniel Fernandes



Daniel is an emerging Afro-Filipino writer and director based in Toronto. His journey began hosting and producing for TVOKids’ The Space and continued from producing at YTV to collaborating in writing rooms for kids’ tv shows. He has championed diversity in all his content including Pride and BIPOC campaigns and episodes, with the aim that every child feels welcomed and valued. Now that he masters the art of scriptwriting, this bursary will help him market his talent in our industry. Daniel cannot wait to expand his magically colorful storytelling toolbox to fill the gaps where voices are missing and spark his commitment to change that narrative.



Scriptwriting Stream: Cindy Hu & Marc-Antoine Larche

Cindy holds an MFA from the Columbia University Film Production Program (Creative Producing Concentrate) and has been the writer and producer of several creative projects including advertising, corporate videos, short films, and animated productions in Taiwan, China, the US, and Canada. Her main inspiration comes from the touching response the five-year-old niece of a friend had when she gave her a DVD copy of her own puppetry short The Lion Paradise as the child was going through the traumatizing experience of her parents’ divorce. Moving to Canada at the age of 17, Cindy is blessed with an outsider’s perspective, cultivating a perpetual yearning for a sense of belonging that resonates with so many immigrant children in Canada. 

Marc-Antoine is a stage actor who graduated from the National School of Humor with a degree in television scriptwriting. He gained his experience as an author by writing for young people and teaching after-school drama in elementary and high school. In 2023, Zone3 has optioned one of his youth projects co-directed with Anne-Hélène Prévost. Determined to chart his career path towards scriptwriting, Marc-Antoine has had the chance to meet several television professionals and to take part in the Pitch des Scénaristes 2023 co-presented by Netflix Canada and the Bells Fund in collaboration with SARTEC.


Content Development Stream

Awarded to an outstanding candidate to expedite their journey to becoming an established content creator, the winner of the Content Development Stream is Kai Little-White.

Kai is a writer and creator of linear and immersive content with a global sensibility. Kai has worked on over 100 hours of television, features, shorts, and music videos including creating the Caribbean’s first reality series The Golden Nugget. Kai's focus on the next generation led to curriculum development spotlighting STEAM, social justice, and emotional intelligence. Kai is an alum of the Canadian Film Centre and Centennial's Children's Media program. In 2021, Kai associate-produced the preschool series Gary’s Magic Fort. This year, Kai is creating an AR installation through the Under the Tent collective storytelling project.

Kai will receive mentorship from industry professionals and up to $5,000 (CAD) for creative development, and $5,000 (CAD) for travel and registration costs for conferences of her choosing throughout the year.

 Scriptwriting Stream
Awarded to four emerging writers to participate in a writers’ summit for a television series, the winners of the Scriptwriting Stream are Alora Lafontaine, David Di Giovanni, Mia Ema Falak, and Scott Farley.

Alora Lafontaine is a Toronto based author and artist. They write prose, poetry, and scripts for screen and comics. Currently, they are developing the feature Morph and are adapting The Waking Crossroads from comic to novel. Alora also has over six years’ experience in film and television production as an assistant art director and illustrator with the Directors Guild of Canada.  In 2015, Alora graduated on full scholarship with a BFA from Adelphi University’s Academic Honors College in the little-known city of New York. They also won the Global Studies Scholarship to attend the Bard Globalization and International Affairs program. Alora will be placed with 9 Story Media Group.  

David Di Giovanni is an award-winning director and writer.  He is the Artistic Director of Shakespeare in Action, the resident professional theatre organization at the new Artscape Weston Common.  He also co-founded Madonnanera with Amanda Cordner, a theatre company invested in creating new intersectional work for the stage which has toured across the country. In 2020, Amanda and David turned their work BODY SO FLUORESCENT into a short film which premiered at the InsideOut Festival and won Best Emerging Canadian Artist. David will be placed with Sinking Ship Entertainment.

Mia Ema Falak is a multilingual writer, actress, and producer. She is a graduate of McGill University’s English Literature and Psychology programs, as well as House of Actors’ Full-Time program. Since then, Mia has worked as a script editor for acclaimed Canadian filmmakers. Recently, she wrote and acted in her debut short film, Broken Colours! Mia is incredibly passionate about storytelling: in her free time, she enjoys reading screenplays before watching the corresponding TV shows or movies, taking acting classes, and engaging in creative writing. She hopes to use the immeasurable power of story to enrich the lives of Canadian youth. Mia will be placed with Little Engine Moving Pictures.

Scott Farley is a writer, actor, producer, voice artist, and failed unicyclist. Scott was nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award for his short film Club Six which is now available on OUTtv and recently he wrote for Family Channel’s new kids’ queer tv series The Fabulous Show! with Fay & Fluffy. As an actor, Scott is known for his role as Carlin Caterpillar on CBC Kids' hit TV show The Moblees where he received a Juno Award Nomination. In partnership with Blue Ice Pictures, his series Stories from my Gay Grandparents has just received IPF production funding. Scott loves peach pie and jungle gyms. Scott will be placed with Nelvana.