Dear Friends of Project Write Now:
We are thrilled to share that Project Write Now has been chosen by the Count Basie Center for the Arts and Bank of America as the August recipient of The Giving Year, “a yearlong initiative to recognize and reward organizations for their contributions to the regional community.”
PWN will receive $1 from every Count Basie Center ticket sold in August! We are so grateful to the Count Basie Center for the Arts and Bank of America for choosing PWN and for sharing our belief in the transformative power of writing.
All of the funds received from this generous donation will support our youth community outreach programs. To learn more about this exciting news, please read the announcement here.
This summer, we’ve been providing a diverse range of writing programs to youth ages 9 through 18. Our programs give writers creative, enriching experiences that allow them to explore their imaginations while also building confidence and developing essential literacy skills.
Some of our programs include:
- a four-week, full-day summer program at Red Bank Middle School in collaboration with STEAMpark and the Monmouth County Vocational School District
- a 10-session creative writing program at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Asbury Park
- an internship program that trains teens to: 1. assist teaching in our summer camps 2. create content for PWN Teen marketing and 3. interview and write stories for select individuals
- a one-day art and journaling workshop with the rising 9th graders at Summer Slam at Red Bank Regional High School
- college essay coaching for students in Lunch Break’s Alliance for Success program at Red Bank Regional High School
- a four-session journaling workshop with teens at Family Based Services Association of New Jersey (an organization that provides peer support, educates, and advocates on behalf of Monmouth County parents and families of children and youth with emotional, behavioral, mental health, developmental disabilities and substance use)
We would not be able to provide these life-changing programs without YOU!
Whether you’ve taken a class, signed your child up for a class, participated in one of our events, or given a generous gift, YOU help us provide meaningful writing experiences that foster authenticity, connection, and empathy.
With love & gratitude,
Creative Movement: Zumba & Writing
We had a blast in our Creative Movement class! Zumba instructor Jill Stryker guided us through the choreography and made sure everyone felt comfortable and was having fun. Then writing instructor Lisa Hartsgrove invited us to channel our energy into writing, where we shared stories about our dancing experiences. We are so grateful to all who came. Be on the lookout for more Zumba and writing coming soon!
Family Based Services Association of NJ (staff)
We provided a professional development art & journaling workshop for the staff of Family Based Services this month. First, we read “You Don’t Have to Choose” by Beth Copeland. Then we looked at the art that inspired the poem—“A Lonesome Border” by Carmella Dolmer. We made lists of images and ideas that we saw in the art ourselves, and then we used those lists as writing prompts. Then, we came back and took our favorite lines from our writing to use in our art. We read “Art Class” by James Galvin and talked about how art is subjective. We embraced our creativity and put our inner critics to the side as we played on the page with markers and words to create something that fully expressed what we wanted to say. We are so proud of the work these staff members shared and we look forward to doing more workshops together in the future!
Family Based Services Association of NJ (youth)
We jumped into our first session with the youth of Family Based Services by writing letters addressed to summer. “Dear Summer” could be a letter to the season, a person, place, or thing and in the letter we explored hopes, plans, and memories of summers past. This activity was a perfect way to beat the heat. Next session, we will dive into more self-reflection prompts, journaling, and more fun, creative letters. We can’t wait to come back!
Firefly: Stories Out Loud
This month, storytellers and spectators alike gathered for our “Firefly: Stories Out Loud” event at Basie Center Cinemas in Red Bank. This live storytelling slam featured true, five-minute, first-person, burning-themed stories. Our three featured storytellers included: Blush Ellis, Brianna McCabe, and Rodney Salomon. Congrats to our story slam winner, Brianna McCabe! We also appreciate our guest judges, who were randomly selected from the audience, for their contributions. Special thanks to our PWN instructors Meredith Avakian and Mannikka Rosa for co-creating and co-hosting this unique, expressive experience. And thank you to Basie Center Cinemas for sharing your space with us! If you missed out on our July Firefly, don’t worry. We are returning to the stage on October 17. The story slam theme will be announced as the date approaches.
On Fridays, we host a one-hour writing workshop on Zoom during which we write in response to themed writing prompts. This month, we explored the themes—“Explode,” “Stuck,” “Burning,” and “Wind.” Though writers never have to share, we always enjoy hearing one another’s pieces and have formed an incredible, supportive community. Join us for our next Lunchtime Write-In to see what our upcoming themes will be!
We are thrilled to have partnered with STEAMpark and the Monmouth County Vocational School District to provide a dynamic full-day, four-week summer camp at Red Bank Middle School. Each day more than 40 campers experience writing/reading, math, engineering/coding, and performing arts! For writing/reading, we’ve been exploring memoir, fiction, and writing our own “books” on topics we are passionate about. We’ve also been joined by Trinity Hall student Parker Gmelich, who founded the nonprofit ReadyReader and has been sharing her love of reading on Tuesdays by giving away books and reading to the students. We are so grateful to Red Bank Middle School for hosting this pilot program!
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
We hosted special writing workshops with middle school students who attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s summer camp in Asbury Park this month. Special field trips included a visit to the beach, as well as the school’s garden, where campers had the chance to experience and write in different environments. We had so much fun getting to know these creative writers!
Poetry & Plants
As part of our community partnership with Kula Urban Farms in Asbury Park, we hosted our third seasonal Poetry & Plants event there on July 30. The event kicked off with a tour of the garden, followed by a writing workshop inspired by the experience of the surroundings, and culminated with an open mic.
PWN India (adults)
We resumed our adult women’s journaling group in India, focusing on moments that bring us joy! We read January Gill O’Neil’s poem “Night at the Roller Palace” and then wrote stories about moments in our lives that we loved so much that we didn’t want them to end. We also read the piece “Back in the Same Day” and wrote about the people and places that we hold dear in our hearts. We love how we are connecting over the simple moments in our lives that make us grateful to be alive!
PWN Teen Interns
Our PWN Teen summer interns are off to a GREAT start! Our Editorial Assistants are taking over our Instagram on @pwnteen, writing new articles for our PWN Teen online magazine Real Voices Write Now, and more. Our Teaching Assistants are helping in our summer programs, assisting and teaching lessons of their own. And our Interview Project interns are deep in the process of getting down meaningful stories for a future feature Bridge Ink issue. We LOVE our interns!
RBR Summer Slam
We had so much fun with the rising 9th graders at Summer Slam at Red Bank Regional this month! We read “A House Called Tomorrow” by Alberto Ríos and then pulled lines from the poem to use as writing prompts. Then we all identified our favorite line of writing from the day and wrote it into our giant collective Art Poem. We can’t wait to hang up the finished product!
PWN Teen Summer Space
Half of Teen Summer Space was completed this month and we are loving the energy of this group! Everyone brings something unique to the table—historical facts, imaginative fantasy, laugh out loud humor, deep poetry … We’ve written about our favorite memories, memories of our characters, and what we would do if we were told the world would end tomorrow. But our favorite thing is when we write collaborative stories together, as we never know where the next sentence will take us! Join us this fall for Teen Writing Space and experience the joy of writing with us!
Shore House (Long Branch)
We were so happy to be back at Shore House this month! We took a moment for a round of applause for our mentee Tina who has been leading the group for the last few sessions. Then we read Marge Piercy’s “Colors passing through us” and wrote about color. We each took one line from our writing to string into this incredible collaborative poem:
Blue makes a good view
in the sky
while cotton candy clouds
Cool water flows
across my face.
We cut sunflowers
to keep us company.
Red is love.
Orange, my favorite season.
Fall, I think of pumpkins.
Silky fur, I start to purr.
I put on my best jeans.
The man drives a blue car
and wears a sparkling blue topaz ring
on his hand.
A blue Jaguar convertible.
We share the best color
for red may bring liveliness in life.
Let go of the past behind you.
or at least try to stay positive.
Then we celebrated our inner children by reading “Throwing Children” by Ross Gay. We made lists of things that brought us joy in our own childhood: activities/hobbies, toys, food, people, favorite childhood memories. And lists of times where we felt like children even as adults. We then pulled lines from the poem as story starters: “It is really something when … Thanks to you … Again and again … Give me … The world knows …” It was incredible how the members wove these notes together into powerful stories and poems. And then they surprised us with a talent show! One member sang, another drummed, another played guitar, another rapped, and another read an original slam poem. The amount of talent at Shore House always blows us away!
Through our mission as a nonprofit organization, we remove barriers to participating in our fee-based classes by providing full and partial scholarship seats as well as payment plans. Since 2020, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the need for financial assistance and therefore have met that need by offering more scholarship seats. For 2023, we’ve already awarded 33 seats totaling $12,120. For information about our scholarship program or to become a valuable donor providing these seats, please email Jennifer Chauhan at firstname.lastname@example.org.