Community Partners—WriteGirl
1330 Factory Place
Suite F104
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Phone: 213.253-2655
Fax: 212.253.2618
E-Mail: keren@writegirl.org
URL: www.writegirl.org

Focus: Creative Writing

Annual Number Participating: 350

Ages: Middle School, High School

Annual Budget: $553,000.00

Partners: Los Angeles County Office of Education; Los Angeles Unified School District—Beyond the Bell Division; Music Center; The Autry Museum; Writers Guild of America

Funders: Amazon.com; Annenberg Foundation; Dwight Stuart Youth Fund; Fox Group; Green Foundation; RR Donnelley

Stuck in a tower.

So overrated, Waiting for a knight to kill the dragon and save me.

So begins “Damsel in Modern Times,” a witty poem with a serious message. In it, the writer recognizes that she already has everything she needs for her own salvation — a brain, a purpose, and a sense of self-worth.The poem concludes with these lines:

We look for love in gold, glory and men,
but it’s inside of us.
We don’t need to be saved
by fairy tales.

A 16-year-old participant in a Los Angeles creative writing and mentoring program, known as WriteGirl, wrote that 20-line poem. It illustrates exactly what the organization is trying to accomplish.

WriteGirl primarily targets teenage girls from critically underserved neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area. These communities have high drop-out rates, and young girls can encounter numerous stumbling blocks on the path to adulthood. Through the process of writing, “young women can develop their ideas, discover their views, and become more aware of what matters in their lives,” explains Keren Taylor, Founder and Executive Director. As young women gain greater self-knowledge and develop more confidence expressing themselves, they’ll be better equipped to navigate the teenage years, she adds.

The program matches girls with professional women writers for weekly one-on-one mentoring and creative writing sessions at libraries or cafés. The girls and their mentors also come together once a month for workshops that focus on specific genres. WriteGirl builds in special touches to make the daylong events fun: In songwriting workshops, professional songwriters turn the girls’ lyrics into instant songs; at the close of playwriting workshops, actors perform the girls’ scenes.

WriteGirl also holds readings and has published a series of award-winning anthologies. The honest, gutsy, and insightful poems and stories contained in these anthologies provide clear evidence that “writing unties the tongue,” as one participant wrote. Although the program doesn’t expect its teenage students to become professional writers, the skills that the girls learn in WriteGirl are already benefiting their lives: The program is especially proud that 100 percent of its seniors have completed high school and gone on to college.

[WriteGirl] has helped me with inspiration. It’s helped me with family problems. It’s helped me get everything on paper.

WriteGirl Participant Comments in a video produced by the program