It’s that time of year. To run around the malls like crazy, buying presents for loved-ones, and for that co-worker you drew from the Secret Santa pool. Maybe even to toss a little change to the Salvation Army guy. In keeping with that last thought, here are some charities that have writing and giving back at heart. This list is by no means exhaustive. Just a sample to get you thinking. In fact, if you know of another that should be on this list, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A “a nonprofit tutoring, writing, and publishing organization with locations in eight cities across the country,” 826 works with school-age students to improve their writing skills, and works with teachers to help them get their students excited about writing. In addition to tutoring and workshops, it offers field trips, publishing opportunities and college scholarships. There’s even an online store to make your holiday shopping easier, with gifts geared toward writers, readers and anyone who wears shirts. In keeping with their spirit and mission, 826 also has a list of other nonprofits dedicated to helping the next generation of writers.
Girls Write Now
As the name suggests, it’s about getting girls writing. And if you’ve ever perused an op-ed page, or a best-seller list, there is a need for getting more female voices out in the public space. From their site: Girls Write Now (GWN) is the first organization in the United States, and the only one on the East coast, to combine mentoring and writing instruction within the context of all-girl programming. Since 1998, we have given more than 3,000 at-risk girls from New York City’s under-funded public high schools access to a supportive mentoring relationship, a safe space to share ideas, and an intergenerational writing community.
Words Without Borders
Words Without Borders is a nonprofit committed to spreading the word around the world. WWB “translates, publishes, and promotes the finest contemporary international literature.” They produce a monthly online magazine with pieces by various international writers, from Nobel winners to rising stars. If you’re a little more inclined to buy something tangible, consider an anthology co-published by WWB. You get the book, they get the proceeds.
Based in Chicago, the Neighborhood Writing Alliance “provokes dialogue, builds community, and promotes change by creating opportunities for adults in Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods to write, publish, and perform works about their lives.” Their Journal of Ordinary Thought publishes the reflections of ordinary people on their lives, working on the belief that “every person is a philosopher.” It’s creative nonfiction that Studs Terkel would be proud of. A People’s Experiences if you will.
This one is not necessarily writing-related, but it can give the donor a chance to fund a specific project that could be writing or reading-related, for example giving money to donate pens and pencils for a writing contest. It works essentially like this: teachers from all over the country post classroom project requests, then donors search through the list and donate to whatever project/s they want. Once the goal is reached, the supplies are delivered.
Another way to give back while supporting writing is to consider a donation to your local public library. It’s not a writing group or organization, but public libraries are often great – and sometimes the only – free resources in an area that allow folks to access books for free, as well as other important resources like internet access and a place to sit and read or write. Which is all crucial for fostering a literary society.
Happy Writing and Happy Holidays!