Girls Write Now Mentoring Program

Girls Write Now Mentoring Program

Girls Write Now, Inc.
520 Eighth Avenue
Suite 2020
New York, NY 10018
Phone: 212-336-9330
Fax: 212-675-0171

Focus: Literary Arts

Annual Number Participating: 50-60

Ages: Middle School, High School

Annual Budget: $250,000


“On this Thursday afternoon, a CNN producer is in a West Village bookstore, sitting across the table from a teenaged girl, providing guidance as she works on an essay for a public reading. In a Brooklyn library, a New York-based correspondent for The Los Angeles Times is working with a high school junior to polish a short story for an anthology.

Similar scenes take place in coffee shops, libraries, and bookstores across New York City every week, as accomplished women writers—participants in the Girls Write Now (GWN) Mentoring Program—help young women develop into the next generation of writers and readers.

The volunteer mentors are an impressive lot, coming from such organizations as The Village Voice, Essence, and W.W. Norton & Company. GWN carefully screens mentors and matches them with talented young women who have been recommended by English teachers or guidance counselors. The program targets girls from lower-income neighborhoods who attend overcrowded public high schools with few extracurricular activities.

Once a month during the school year, the students and their mentors meet for a half-day-long workshop, organized by the mentors, that introduces a particular literary genre, such as fiction, memoir, drama, or journalistic essays. During the session, participants read examples of that form and tackle writing exercises. Between workshops, each mentor–student pair meets weekly to review additional reading and writing assignments. The protégées develop a portfolio that includes examples of seven different genres, polishing at least three pieces for submission to publications, contests, or readings.

The all-female programming provides a safe place to help the students grow artistically and personally. “The girls see women role models who are living out what they could become,” explains Co-Founder and Executive Director Maya Nussbaum. “And, by creating an environment that serves only girls, the young women open up in ways that they never would otherwise. They have somebody to turn to for advice. They also have a creative outlet for dealing with things in a healthy way, so we’ve averted a lot crises or dealt with them gracefully,” she continues.

These mentoring relationships can last as long as four years. GWN also organizes college visits and application writing workshops. As evidence of the program’s success, during the past five sessions, 100 percent of seniors who have completed GWN have been accepted into college, including Barnard, Colgate, New York University, and Swarthmore.”

“Girls Write Now attracts some of the finest authors who are writing for both the adult and young adult audiences. These writers not only give excellent practical advice about writing, but they also invite the girls into the literary world, helping them see themselves as writers.”

Nancy Larson Shapiro Co-Chair, Teachers & Writers Collaborative Board