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Empowerment with a Pen and Paper

The written word can transcend time and boundaries to achieve progress and change. Programs such as Sister Writes and Girls Write Now are honing young women’s articulation, communication, and writing skills one letter and girl at a time.

Girls Write Now
Founded by Columbia University graduate, Maya Nussbaum, Girls Write Now is New York City’s first and sole mentoring organization aimed at helping young women express their stories through writing. The non-profit pairs underserved high school girls with professional women writers.

These one-on-one mentorships reap incredible rewards. Girls Write Now has seen 100 percent of its senior participants go to college, some at highly competitive alma maters such as John Hopkins University, New York University, and Brown University.

The program develops its mentees’ voices through a series of college preparation courses, writing, technology, media marketing, and leadership workshops. Supporters of Girls Write Now include award-winning authors, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Roxane Gay, and ABC News’ Nightline Co–Anchor, Juju Chang, amongst many other lauded journalists, novelists, and media makers.

Recently awarded the White House Champion of Change Award in 2016 for its stellar success rates, Girls Write Now mentees have earned a collective 53 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Many mentees have work published in world-renown newsletters and publications, including Elle India and Newsweek. The proof is in the published works for this impactful program.

Young Women Empowered (Y-WE)
Based in the greater Seattle area of Washington, Young Women Empowered is a need-based empowering mentorship that runs a myriad of programs aimed at young women and girls to instill skills and self-confidence for future generations of women. Founded by mother and mentor, Jamie Rose Edwards, Y-WE sees 100 percent of its mentees graduate high school and 95 percent go on to college. It does not turn any applicant away, as the program maintains a “pay what you are able” philosophy.

The non-profit orchestrates six programs, including leadership and articulation based programs Y-WE LEAD, Y-WE Speak, and Y-WE WRITE. Y-WE LEAD focuses on honing social-emotional literacy, communication, and college essay writing amongst many other workshops targeting storytelling and expression. Y-WE Speak offers participants a chance to craft their public speaking and performance skills, providing young women with theater and writing workshops.

Y–WE WRITE pairs mentees with mentors and teachers from writing empowerment organization, Hedgebrook. The program is a week-long summer camp focused on sharing and creating narratives with a concentration on literary expression, including poetry, fiction, playwriting, lyric writing, and spoken word.

Sister Writes
Based in Toronto, Canada, Sister Writes serves women suffering from or affected by homelessness, trauma, mental health problems, addictions, and displacement. With a support system of sponsors, volunteers, and guest writers, Sister Writes offers underserved and high-need women with literacy and creative writing workshops that aim to build self-esteem and healthy expression.

The non-profit runs 12-week-long writing workshops, where participants create, edit, and hone their written works with help from professional journalists, authors, and poets. This culminates with the publishing of the program’s literary magazine, Sister Writes. Sister Writes also has plans for expansion, hoping to reach 12 communities, including the towns of Hamilton, Sioux Lookout, and Cornwall, via its developing Sister Writes on the Road campaign.

These programs provide stepping stones for upcoming generations, arming young women with pens and words so they may write their own futures.

Featured Image by woodleywonderworks on Flickr

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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