March 08, 2019
Among the many nonprofit organizations working to better their communities, one is literally helping young people write their own success stories.
Here's the rundown on Mighty Writers, a nonprofit that helps children and teens in Philadelphia and Camden improve their writing skills.
Mission: Mighty Writers is a Philadelphia-based nonprofit with six locations in the city, including one with a bilingual focus, and a seventh in Camden. In a city where only 30 percent of eight grade students are reading and writing at grade level, Mighty Writers emphasizes writing skills as a pathway to success.
"Our mission is to get kids to think clearly and write with clarity," Whitaker said. "That's our overriding mantra. We believe that writing has power and when kids learn to express themselves, their self-esteem soars."
Mighty Writers holds daily, after-school writing academies that cover various genres of writing – everything from reporting to poetry to memoir writing. The organization also hosts writing classes on nights and weekends and teen scholarship programs.
All of the organization's programs are free to young people ages 7 to 17. They are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Impact: Launched in 2009, Mighty Writers reached more than 3,500 youths through its programs last year – about 500 more than it helped in 2017. It added two locations, both in North Philadelphia, at the Rivera Recreation Center and Penrose Recreation Center. The nonprofit intends to expand to two more rec centers in 2019.
"The literacy crisis in the city is vast and deep," Whitaker said. "There's no end to the number of locations that we could conceivably open or the number of kids we could see. At the moment, we're trying to get our program into two more rec centers a year for the foreseeable future."
How to volunteer: More than 400 creative writers – including teachers, journalists and filmmakers – volunteer across Mighty Writers' various locations in a variety of fashions. That includes workshop leaders, mentors and tutors and teaching assistants.
More information on specific opportunities – and the commitment necessary – is available on the Mighty Writers website. But Whitaker said there is something for everyone.
"We have people who volunteer every day," Whitaker said. "We have people who volunteer once a week. We have people who volunteer only for special events."
Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up online. All volunteers must pass a child abuse clearance and FBI background and criminal record checks.
How to participate: Youth looking to participate in any of the myriad Mighty Writers programs can sign up for programs with open slots online. Programs are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. All programs are free.