Helping Girl’s to Write their Futures
Girls Write Now (GWN) is a fifteen-year-old nonprofit dedicated to mentoring young, underserved female writers. Unlike other after-school programs, GWN combines both mentorship from older professional women and an emphasis on developing outstanding writing skills. Also, GWN’s track record of success is unusually high for a nonprofit. One-hundred percent of GWN seniors graduate from high school and go on to college, with many receiving partial or full scholarships as a result of their work with the program. GWN has been recognized by group’s ranging from the White House to NBC Nightly News. I.N.C. called the group "one of the most enterprising nonprofits improving the lives of New York City youth." While success might be defined by quantitative results, qualitatively the program also serves a broader mission, to improve the lives of young women in NYC. Long an underserved group, young women are often especially vulnerable to the cycle of poverty, early pregnancy, and violence and GWN offers distinctive resources to help prevent this cycle from continuing.
Digital Media in the Mix
GWN recently added a digital media component to their roster of mentoring, readings, anthologies, workshops, college prep and even therapy. This unique digital media program is described on the GWN site, "Facebooking, Tweeting, Tumbling, Pinning, Blogging: our mentees are already fluent in the digital world. Our digital media programs bring writing and mentoring into the mix." Developed to help boost participants’ "tech savvy" while preparing mentees "to serve as the next generation of writers," this approach further allows the program to increase the real-world relevance of learning gained through participation while helping to prepare mentees for college and future careers. Additionally, through secure digital portfolios participants are able to critique one-another’s writing and participate in skills-building activities and writing assignments.
Bring-on the "Dorkshops"
In 2012 GWN secured support from the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund, the New York Community Trust and the Edmund de Rothschild Foundations to launch a pilot series of hands-on "Dorkshops" that allow mentor-mentee pairs to participate in a series of digital "intensives." These opportunities include reimagining their writing as remixed "multi-media works of video, audio, and animation." Other "intensives" include Narrative Gaming, in which participants "use blog posts and QR codes to build narrative online games playable from any mobile device." Finally, the group is creating opportunities to foster innovations in Creative Publishing in which a focus is placed on e-publishing and creating multi-media-enhanced e-books. GWN is expanding their offerings to match young writers with New School graduate writers for a series of workshops, readings, opportunities for publishing collaborations and more, all to give girls the tools to advance their writing through digital media. Girls Write Now might be just the resource to help many underserved girls excel at writing for a digital era.
Image: From the Girls Write Now site