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2024 News and Announcements


Welcome to the 2024 Annual Newsletter. First, congratulations to the thousands of Writopia writers, from young and teen writers to instructors and full-time staff, who set out and completed the writing of original pieces this year! A few hundred members of our community also bravely submitted writing to the 2024 Scholastic Awards and to other rigorous platforms, publications, and publishing houses. 

We are thrilled to share some of their exciting news below. (Below, "medals" are national awards, "keys" are regional awards.)

Writopia Writers News

Awards & Publications

  • Adiyah Parham—We are thrilled to share and congratulate Adiyah Parham for winning the most prestigious writing award for teens in the nation, The Scholastic Awards' Gold Medal for her Writing Portfolio. Of the thousands of writing portfolios submitted from across the country, only seven seniors win this prestigious $12,500 scholarship award. Adiyah has taken part in Writopia's selective Creative Portfolio program for three years, and has won a production in Writopia's 2022 Worldwide Plays festival in New York City! Adiyah, we are so proud of your dedication to your craft and for the talent you have elevated with grace, wisdom, and passion.

  • Tara Prakash—became Maryland’s First State Youth Poet Laureate and won eight Scholastic gold keys, seven silver keys, and eleven honorable mentions for poetry, personal essay, critical essay, flash fiction, and short story. Other awards she received: 2024 Montgomery County Youth Poet Laureate; National YoungArts Awards in Creative Nonfiction; Leonard L. Milberg '53 High School Poetry Prize; DePaul's Blue Book Best American High School Writing. She was also published in Blue Marble Review. Congratulations on all!

  • Dina Lusztig Noyes—who has been selected to participate in Writopia's Advanced Writing Seminar (AWS) at the New School and this summer at Pratt became Santa Cruz’s First Youth Poet Laureate! We are so proud of your dedication, passion, community engagement, and talent!

  • Maria Rojas—was awarded a Gold and Silver Key from the Scholastic Awards and selected as a student speaker to present at the Gold Key Award Ceremony in New York City. She was also published in The Literary Kaleidoscope, her school's literary magazine, and served as the co-creative designer and editor of her school’s literary publication. Congratulations on an amazing year!

Maria Rojas speaking at the Scholastic Awards Ceremony.
     "Every Monday night, Maria comes with a smile from her workshop. She has built a fantastic community at Writopia Lab and made friends with her classmates and instructor. She has had the chance to submit her writing to multiple places, learning the lesson of what rejection feels like as well as acceptance. She won a Gold and Silver key at the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and she thanks her instructor Amy because she supported her with the submission process. Amy also supported her as she wrote and memorized a speech to give at the ceremony. Maria now wishes to minor in poetry in her college career.  So, thank you all for allowing so many teens to have the chance to create their fondness for writing. Maria would never have known this side of herself without the support of Writopia Lab!"
- Vilma, Maria's mom 
  • Cora Anderson's piece "First Snow of the Year" was published in The New York Times as a winner of the Teen Tiny Memoirs Contest. Her piece “California” was published in Rust & Moth.
  • Emi Shapiro was a finalist for The New York Times' Teen Tiny Memoirs Contest.

  • Sonali Browning was featured as a rising poet in the online newspaper The Mamaroneck Observer; two silver keys and one honorable mention in poetry; and also won first place in the Lifting Up Westchester Essay Contest and received $500. Sonali also had a poem featured in the Floodwaters Documentary created by Westchester's poet laureate BK Fischer, and three poems accepted for publication in Creative Communications, and her poems and stories were selected for publication in two Writopia publications: Turning the Page anthology and Frightopia.  

  • Shreya Ganguly won a Scholastic Gold Key for her senior writing portfolio. Her poem “We Sit Close” was published in Parallax, and other works have been published in Interlochen Review and is forthcoming in GSU's Anthology of Outstanding High School Writing, Fledge and Writopia's social justice anthology Turning the Page, We, the Treasured.

(From left to right) Sonali Browning, Aravah Chaiken, James Plummer, and Shreya Ganguly on the train to DC for the Creative Portfolio Retreat!
    • Ava Barcelona won a Scholastic Gold Medal for "ISANG BANSA, DALAWANG DIWA (ONE NATION, TWO SPIRITS)."
    • Nicola Bailey won a Scholastic Silver Medal for "Boxes."
    • James Blenko won a Scholastic Gold Medal for "The Foreigner."
    • Wyatt Foster won a Scholastic Gold Medal in Critical Essay for his nuclear semiotics project.
    • Gabe Horowitz won a Scholastic Silver Medal for "Porcine Psychopathy: Peppa Pig's Mosaic of Evil."
    • Yoonsuh Kim won a Scholastic Gold Medal for "Pigeon Clouds" and a Silver Medal for "Letters to my Mother."
    • Olivia Romano won a Scholastic Gold Medal for "Capirotada Recipe" and a Silver Medal for "Car Radio."
    • Twyla Shand won a Scholastic Silver Medal for "Empty-Handed."
    • Ruby Sinder won a Scholastic Silver Medal for "Always"; two Scholastic gold keys, one silver key, and two honorable mentions for her poetry; and was published in Millennium High School’s lit mag.
    • Annabel Zhou won a Scholastic Gold Medal for "Miracles."
    • Hollyn Alpert’s poem "Gold to Gray," won the Society of Young Inklings book contest and will be published in an anthology; and won a gold key in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
    • Carmen Ashworth won a Scholastic silver key for her science fiction and fantasy piece.
    • Zoe Becker won a Scholastic gold key for her personal essay and two honorable mentions for her short story and flash fiction piece.
    • Claire Breslow won a Scholastic silver key in short story and three honorable mentions in poetry, flash fiction, and novel writing.
    • Olivia Brown's poetry was recognized in a school poetry contest.
    • Isabella Cai won a Scholastic silver key in poetry and personal essay, as well as an honorable mention for humor.
    • Dakota Cameron won three Scholastic honorable mentions for flash fiction, short story, and personal essay and memoir.
    • Aravah Chaiken won a Scholastic gold key for critical essay, two silver keys for short story, and one honorable mention for science fiction and fantasy.
    • Alexis Chase: The prologue to a novella in progress was published in Alexis’ school's literary magazine, the Eidolon, and in the newsletter of the Washington Writers' Publishing House.
    • Nell Choi won a Scholastic gold key for personal essay and an honorable mention for flash fiction. Nell is a published author, an artist, and an activist. Check her out here.
    • Blake Feinstein won a Scholastic silver key in humor and an honorable mention in personal essay and memoir.
    • Michaela Frey won three honorable mentions from the Scholastic Awards for Poetry; and had four of her poems and stories accepted and published in Teen Ink.
    • Devra Goldhaber won a Scholastic silver key for flash fiction, as well as a silver key and two honorable mentions for poetry.
    • Ananya Govind won a Scholastic honorable mention for her short story.
    • Sanja Greenawalt won a Scholastic gold key in critical essay and novel writing, as well as a silver key in personal essay and memoir.
    • Stephanie Groves won an honorable mention for her Scholastic writing portfolio.
    • Thuy Holder-Vinh received an Honorable Mention from the Brooklyn Public Library’s 2024 Teen Writing Contest & Ned Vizzini Prize for her short story, “Wonderland.” [Story available at BPL branches this summer.] 
    • Joanne Hwang’s op-ed “Reimagining Writing at Stuyvesant” was published in The Spectator.
    • Naomi Jeske won one Scholastic gold key, three silver keys, and four honorable mentions for poetry.
    • Lea Karian won a Scholastic silver key for her writing portfolio; a silver key in personal essay and memoir; and one gold key, one silver key and five honorable mentions for poetry.
    • Samantha Katz won a Scholastic silver key for short story and an honorable mention for novel writing. 
    • Katie Kim won a Scholastic gold key in short story, a gold key and honorable mention in science fiction, a silver key and honorable mention in poetry, and an honorable mention in novel writing.
    • Zack Lam won two Scholastic silver keys and an honorable mention for his poetry and critical essay.
    • Emma Laurence won a Scholastic silver key in poetry.
    • Chloe Lee won a Scholastic gold key, a silver key, and three honorable mentions for poetry.
    • Koi Lerner’s poem “Slaughter” was published in Teen Ink.
    • Henry Lomma's short story "Trish" was published in Blue Marble Review; "Count George" published in the Frightopia anthology.
    • Nick Marino won a Scholastic gold key and honorable mention in science fiction and fantasy, a silver key and honorable mention in dramatic script, and two honorable mentions in flash fiction.
    • Oona McPhearson won a Scholastic gold key and silver key for short story.
    • Andrew Nam won a Scholastic gold key for critical essay.
    • Izzy Oh won two Scholastic silver keys and an honorable mention for her poetry, flash fiction, and critical essay; and won second place in the Mary Ann Hutchinson Memorial Youth Story Contest.
    • Viraaj Raofield won three Scholastic honorable mentions for novel writing and poetry.
    • Nina Rogers won a 2024 Honorable Mention from the Scholastic Writing Awards for her short story Pete & Madeline.
    • Annalise Ross won a Scholastic silver key in personal essay and memoir as well as dramatic script.
    • Zahra Sadoughi won a Scholastic gold key and American Voices Nomination for her poetry and a silver key for her personal essay and memoir.
    • Hana Sakr won three Scholastic silver keys for poetry.
    • Fenley Scurlock won a Scholastic gold key and honorable mention for humor and science fiction & fantasy.
    • Emi Shapiro won two Scholastic silver keys for her short story and personal essay, as well as an honorable mention for critical essay.
    • Divya Sharma won a Scholastic silver and honorable mention in critical essay.
    • Emily Shull won a silver key for flash fiction and two honorable mentions for critical essay.
    • Avantika Singh won a Scholastic silver key in critical essay.
    • Lucy Steward won two Scholastic silver keys and an honorable mention for critical essay as well as a silver key and honorable mention for poetry.
    • Alexandra Steyn won three Scholastic silver keys for critical essay, a silver key for short story, a silver key and honorable mention for flash fiction, and an honorable mention for personal essay and memoir.
    • Hugh Vickery won a Scholastic gold key for his poetry.
    • Jo Wallace-Segall has two pieces of literary fiction, “There,” and “Coconut Juice" to be published in the forthcoming issue of The Center School's literary magazine.
    • Maxanne Wallace-Segall won one Scholastic gold key and one honorable mention for journalism and one gold key for her fiction. Her opinion pieces, “Are You Ok?: Muslim & Jewish Connection,” “Peace is Possible,” and “How to Celebrate Passover During a War,”  were published in The Spectator.
    • Lilia Werve won an honorable mention from the 2024 Scholastic Awards for her poetry (and a Gold Medal last year!)
    • Nirali Yedendra was published in Stone Soup twice for the pieces "My Liberating Brain" and "You Own It".
    • Jonathan Zhang’s essay, “The Woman on the New Quarter”, received a Scholastic Honorable Mention Award.
    • And congratulations to the following teens on completing their first year of our selective Creative Portfolio program!
      • Mariela Alschuler, Henry Arroyo, Sahara Asher, Advika Asthana, Mason Avery, Lilah Baez, Nicola Bailey, Julia Barney, Owen Berland, Sonali Browning, Ian Burch, Isabella Cai, Megan Chan, Emily Charlton, Mahnaz Daud-Basrai, Sydney Davis, Michaela Frey, Shreya Ganguly, Maya Graff, Miriam Hale, Thuy Holder-Vinh, Sara Horowitz, Madelyn Hsieh, Emma Knisbacher, Avni Krishna, Maxwell Lally, Annika Lamberti, Joshua Lancman, Evie Lee, Serine Lee, Hunter Maguire, Edy Meyers, Brendan Moran, Netta Nov, Linda Palmer, Harper Ragle, Viraaj Raofield, Zahra Sadoughi, Lili Sella, Cate Shanahan, Aashvi Singh, Alexandra Steyn, Ryan Tang, Yanic Valbrune, Maxanne Wallace-Segall, & Celeste Wilbur
      • Shout out to the dedicated Eva Djordjevic for completing her second year of Creative Portfolio while Zooming in from Spain!

College Bound!

Congratulations to our seniors for completing an incredible four years of school and Writopia! Shout out to Léna Roy, our Director of Teen Programs, for spearheading the fabulous Creative Portfolio program, publications, and trips! And a special shout out to our Creative Portfolio and WriCampia seniors who have dedicated hours of writing, interning, editing, organizing, and traveling with us over the years:

  • Eliot Ageura y Arcas
  • Sahara Asher
  • Allie B.
  • Isabella Cai
  • Kayla Caruso
  • Alexis Chase
  • Ella Davis
  • Paloma Divina
  • Freda Dong
  • Josh Lancman
  • Jamie Landeau 
  • Charlotte Lipman
  • Lea Karian
  • Nour Mokbel
  • Indira Moshi
  • Roxie Nelson
  • Givi Fleuristal-Muheto
  • Shreya Ganguly
  • Sanja Greenawalt
  • Stephanie Groves 
  • Jonah Gulisano
  • Camil Piperni
  • James Plummer
  • Eli Prager
  • Soap Robinson
  • Annalise Ross
  • Franny Shaloum
  • Ruby Sinder
  • Ricky Smith
  • Julia Volpp
  • Emma Wasserman 
  • Celeste Wilbur
  • Bernice Zhao

We have loved EVERY second of supporting your creative writing and college essay writing processes. So far, our college essay writers have shared with us that they will be freshmen at the following amazing institutions in the fall: 

  • Berkeley
  • Boston College
  • Bucknell, Arts Merit Scholarship in Creative Writing
  • Chapman (Screenwriting)
  • George Washington University (Honors Program)
  • Hampshire
  • McGill
  • Muhlenberg
  • Northwestern
  • NYU Tisch Dramatic Script
  • Pace
  • Pomona
  • Princeton
  • Smith
  • Stanford
  • SUNY Oneonta
  • SUNY Purchase
  • Tufts
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Toronto
  • Vanderbilt University (Posse Scholar)
  • Vassar
  • Yale

Each year since 2020, we have published an increasing number of books including works from our own programs (at our labs and schools) in addition to the works of students from Title 1 schools that come to us to provide publication as a service to their schools. Shout out to Will Bond who makes publication possible for hundreds of students each year! 
  • Connecting Across Cultures
    • Featuring selected Jewish and Muslim teen writers: Zoe Becker, Dania Bressler, Leila Cisse, Mahnaz Daud-Basrai, Heba Elkouraichi, Zara Hai, Ilana Horwitz, Leonid Metlitsky, Millie Nathanson, & Anniyah Rizvi.
  • “Loved Your Essay” Second Edition
    • Featuring nine new college essays by Writopia alumni: Eli Berliner, Daniela Brillon, Ella Davis, Sophia Hall, Eliana Herzog, Ailynn O’Neill, Camil Piperni, Eli Prager, & Sophia Rubin.
  • Frightopia
    • Celebrating the writing of 76 selected Writopia writers.
    • Full list of contributors here!
  • A Wish Upon a Snowflake (forthcoming)
    • Celebrating the writing of 28 Writopia writers.
    • Full list of contributors here!
  • The Dreams of Immigrants
    • Partnership with International Community High School.
  • Mi Llegada A Los Estados Unidos / My Arrival in the United States
    • Partnership with International Community High School.
  • Wonders of the Wild: A WriCampia Anthology
    • Full list of contributors here!
  • Finding Writopia: Where Craft Meets Joy (forthcoming)
    • by Rebecca Wallace-Segall, Léna Roy, Yael Schick, and Danielle Sheeler, with guest contributors Elsa Bermudez, Rita Feinstein, Tasnim Hussain, Matthew Jellison, and Janelle Williams, and a Foreword by Writopia Board of Directors Member, Kevin R Free and Founder of Writopia's Worldwide Plays Festival, Dan Kitrosser.
  • We, the Treasured (forthcoming Turning the Page Anthology)
    • Editors in Chief
      • Lea Karian, Eli Prager, & Emma Wasserman
    • Committee/ Editors
      • Nola Brooks, Sonali Browning, Nell Choi, Shreya Ganguly, Emi Shapiro, & Bernice Zhao
    • Contributors to Anthology
      • Jude Al-Mufti, Nola Brooks, Sonali Browning, Nell Choi, Edith Domanski, Shreya Ganguly, Naomi Jeske, Lea Karian, Vainavi Kumar, Eli Prager, Viraaj Raofield, Emily Rousakis, Tessa Sagner, Cordelia Scoville, Ruby Seidner, Sofia Sherer, Emma Wasserman, & Bernice Zhao

Instructor News


  • Rafaela Bassili was published in The New York Times MagazineThe AtlanticVultureNotebook MUBIand Cleveland Review of Books.
  • Elsa Bermúdez had "Two short comics and art published in Brown Sugar Lit (Shanille’s magazine!); comics “The Sky is Bluer” and “Gum” published in Issue #8 The Eleventh Hour; illustrations “My Tongue is My Crown,” “Speaking (in Tongues),” “Fable,” and “From a Distance” published in Issue #9 Magic Hour. 
  • Ivory Butler's YA murder mystery, Unreliable, is now being submitted to publishers.
  • Jordan Casomar's book How to Lose a Best Friend is forthcoming from MTV Books in September.
  • Amy Dupcak is now Editor-in-Chief of the literary journal Cagibi. She read her prose at the Apartment Party performance series and at the long-running bi-monthly series Lyrics, Lit & Liquor (for which she writes original themed trivia).
  • Niki Fakhoori is the author of ”A Dream Of Your Own: The Formulas of Unova” published on PokeCommunity Daily.
  • Rita Feinstein is the author of the new novel Meet Me in the Fourth Dimension, published by Page Street.
  • Camryn Garrett's 4th book, her debut middle-grade novel called The Forgotten Summer of Seneca, will be published by Abrams in 2025.
  • Sophia N. Lee published her books, "Holding On" and "Lolo’s Sari-sari Store". "Holding On" received the following honors: Yellowhammer Picture Book Award (Top 10) Given by the Alabama School Library Association (2023-2024); Read Aloud Indiana Award Winner (Ageless Category ) Given by the Indiana Library Federation (2023). "Lolo’s Sari-sari Store" was chosen as: a Best Picture Book of 2023 by the School Library Journal; a Notable Children’s Social Studies Book by the Children’s Book Council (2023); a Bank Street Best Picture Book of 2023 by the Bank Street Library; an Award Winner by the Rhode Island Children’s Book Award.
  • Matthew Jellison wrote this beautiful piece about three of our amazing instructors and their moms -- all of whom are retired reading and writing teachers! (See the video below from the Hard Skills training that their mothers spoke at!)
  • Kendra Jones has been contributing reviews for The Front Row Center.
  • Sam Schnell's poetry was published in Sonora ReviewThe Argyle Literary MagazineAtlanta Review, and Bicoastal Review.
  • Carly Sorenson's "Butch Drag Tango: The Life and Lyrics of Azucena Maizani," a historical deep dive into a cross-dressing singer from the Golden Age of Tango, broadcast by Montez Press Radio on May 25th, 2024. Textile art titled "Watch Me" on display at the Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association Gallery as part of their Safe Space exhibit for Pride from May 30th - June 23rd, 2024. Poetry and dance performance titled "Safe Space" at the Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association Gallery on June 9. Carly will be reading from her work (including a short story called "Peel" and the artist's statement for her textile art "Watch Me") while dancers perform choreography inspired by her writing.
  • Paulina Tesnow graduated from Sarah Lawrence in May with an MFA in Creative Nonfiction.
  • Bianca Turetsky published three personal essays with
  • Noah Wilson: "The Old Kind of Memory," short story (Orca - Issue #16, June 2024); "The Mind Like Water," flash fiction (Chautauqua: Rooted and Growing - Issue #21, January 2024); "One Hundred Characters at an Amusement Park" short story (Third Street Review - Issue #2, June 2023);  "Solo Piano Vol. 1" EP (All music streaming platforms, May 2024); "Hold Out Thirst 2" single (All music streaming platforms, May 2024).
  • Jane Young's Short story "Vehicle," upcoming in Rock and a Hard Place, Issue #13.

An instructor training featuring three Writopia staff moms!

Theater Productions

  • Lizz Mangan: "And the Lights of the Borealis Were Shining" at The Tank (February 2023); "Eyes and Teeth" at American Stage Theatre Company (October 2023), "Icarus and Amelia Earhart Had Tea This Morning" at Hobart and William Smith Colleges (April 2024); Finalist - INKubator, Arthouse Productions. Summer 2024 Playwriting Resident with First Kiss Theatre;
    Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers Conference.
  • Amalia Oliva Rojas's play In the Bronx Brown Girls Can See Stars Too was performed at Columbia University at the Schapiro Theatre and wrote her first adaptation titled Are you going to find your way out Uncle Vanya? performed at Columbia University at the Studio Theatre. She also had her playwriting international debut with It’s Not So Bad In My Brain as part of the Festival Alternativo de Teatro in Bogota, Colombia this past March. Finally, this month, she was awarded the Lydia Mendoza Graduate Fellowship on behalf of CFE International and The CUNY Institute of Mexican Studies!
  • Cassandra Rose's play “Skyflint” was produced as part of Director's Haven 7 at Haven Chicago; staged reading of "Billy to His Friends" was produced by Celebration Theatre.
  • Sam Stone's play Finding Olive, was produced by the SheNYC Festival 2023, at The Connelly Theatre. Script to be licensed by SheNYC for regional productions nationwide.
  • Susan Yassky is a Seven Devils Playwriting Conference semi-finalist.

Creative Writing Youth Development Leadership

Watch Tasnim's PASEsetters speech!

  • Awards—Tasnim Hussain, 2024 PASEsetters Award Winner.
    • In February, over 500 guests joined the Partnership for After School Education for their 2024 PASEsetter Awards Benefit, celebrating five NYC outstanding youth development educators, including the one and only Tasnim Hussain!
  • Conferences — National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
    • In the fall of 2023, Yael Schick, Matthew Jellison, and Malcolm Knowles attended the NCTE annual conference and presented a panel at the Conference of English Leadership called "Writing Workshops as the Gateway to Empathy, Critical Thinking, and Transformation".
    • In 2024, Writopia will be running two panels at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE):
      • Connecting Across Cultures: Jewish and Muslim Teens Share Their Stories During the Israel-Hamas War: the panel produced and led by Rebecca Wallace-Segall, Tasnim Hussain, Yael Schick, and CAC teens, Anniyah Rizvi and Lenny Metlitsky.
      • The Work of Play in the Classroom: Open-Ended Student-Centered Prompts and Games to Transform Your Writing Classroom.
  • Professional Development: Marrying Joy & Rigor in New Innovative Trainings
    • This year Matthew Jellison designed and ran our most intensive
      "Hard Skills Week," including a special forum with some incredible staff moms! Click here for more info.

Events News

Worldwide Plays Festival 2024

Congratulations to all of the selected teen Festival Fellows who worked and wrote so beautifully with their partner young playwrights:

  • Teen Festival Fellows:
    • Isadora Ardizzoni, Masua Chaiken, Megan Chan, Julia Cramer, Stephanie Groves, Rena Jalon, Naomi Jeske, Bee Kanofsky, Annie Singh, & Bernice Zhao
  • Young Co-Playwrights:
    • Parker Allen, Lily Boegli, Charlotte Caplan, Kian Campwala,  Emma Chabrowski, Avery Choi, Carla Citerman, Lola Greenman, Mirabelle Hoffman, Jiann Hong, Frida Meyer-Ebrecht, Samara Rotenberg, Aurelia Tahan, Clio Taylor, Orli Umlauf, & Lila Yu

Scholastic Awards Ceremonies

in Westchester and DC

Congratulations to Peter Quinn-Jacobs, Michaela Florio, Léna Roy, and all of our amazing support staff, for spearheading the production of the DC and Westchester Scholastic Awards Ceremonies!

Essay Writing Conferences / Online and in DC

Congratulations to all the selected youth presenters (below) and to Elsa Bermúdez, Rita Feinstein, Michaela Florio, Tasnim Hussain, and Matthew Jellison for running another beautiful year of essay writing celebration.

  • Isaac Abraham, Laurel Aronian, Chloe Bryant, David Cao, Vicky Chen, Catherine Fenlon, Daniel Freidland, Shrishti Ghosh, Allison Kim, Sophie Kim, David Lee, Noelle Lee, Caleigh McAteer, Jackie McVorran, Grace Molla, Sinead Molony, Alisa Montrose, Kate Quach, Aureliano Ruiz-Halpert, Cordelia Scoville, Nirupama Shivakumar, James Song, Abigail Sterner, Devan Tatlow, Laurentia Woo, Anthony Xu, Edwin Yoo, Johnathan Zhang, & Bernice Zhao

Writopia International Debate Tournaments

Congratulations to Shanille Martin who has been spearheading this super exciting, competitive Wrtiopia program.

From the June 8th, 2024 tournament:

  • Two Writopia teams placed in the top teams with 2 wins out of their 3 rounds:
    • Team Witty Wizards: Peyton Yaffee, Nirali Ydenra, Carter Wang, and Michelle Batson-Greenberg. 
    • Team PEIPINVAL: Peichi Che, Pinwei Che, and Valentina Mafaro.
  • Four Writopians placed in the top 10 speakers with the highest scores:
    • Peichi Che, Pinewi Che, Valentina Mafaro, and Nirali Ydendra. 

From the January 27th, 2024 tournament:

  • Top speakers from Writopia:
    • Nirali Ydendra
    • Samrajya Singh
    • Diana Davidson
    • Esther Motia
    • Manya Guatam

Reading at New York Society for Ethical Culture

Open Mic Series at P&T Knitwear

Organizational News

We launched our first parent portal and we hope you love it! Shoutout to our brilliant operations team that dedicated a year to designing and coding: Jeremy Wallace-Segall, Peter Quinn-Jacobs, Rob Roy, and Rachel Aronson!


WriCampia moved to Camp Danbee in 2023 and we love it there!

Thank you Supergoop for sponsoring two 2024 WriCampia scholarships along with extra sunscreen for the entire camp! 

"It is the only sunscreen I use, I'm not kidding. This is great!" —Tasnim Hussain

Thank you Amy Smith and the Allan S. Gordon Foundation for your generous donations as well. We would not be able to bring all of our writers to camp without you all!

East Coast and West Coast Retreats

Elsa Bermudez and Michaela Florio launched Writopia's first West Coast Winter Retreat!

2023-2024 Partnerships

Thanks to The Pinkerton Foundation, we had another amazing year working with the wonderful writers at Goddard Riverside sites and Homes for the Homeless, and providing about 50 writers on full scholarship for workshops and private sessions at our Manhattan and Brooklyn locations. In addition, we were able to run super fun workshops for youth development staff at both organizational sites!  In addition, we loved running admissions writing programs through the year at schools funded by the NYCDOE Chancellor's Office and with many more partner schools and CBOS. 

We are especially excited to welcome three new partnership programs this past spring and this coming summer:

  • Bronx Excellence
    • Shoutout to founder and CEO Charlene Floyd for supporting her school families with an amazing new program for PARENTS run by Writopia’s brilliant and deeply caring Malcolm Knowles who helped 20 Bronx Excellence parents reflect and write beautiful parent application essays for private school high school admissions!
  • Amsterdam Houses at the NY Society for Ethical Culture
    • Thanks to Writopia grandmother Marlene Williamson at Ethical Culture, our 2023 gala donors, and the Pinkerton Foundation, we were able to run a free workshop last summer at Ethical for children from Amsterdam Public Houses.
  • SEO Scholars Program
    • Shoutout to Randy M. Frazer, Associate Director of Programs & Student Success at SEO Scholars Program, for seeking early college essay support for the nearly 200 rising juniors their program will support this summer. We’re excited to familiarize these students with personal essay writing in order to prepare them to write college essays in the upcoming years.

New Writopia 2023-2024 Programs

  • Connecting Across Cultures
    • Ten teen writers — five Jewish and five Muslim — from across the US were selected from a pool of dozens of high level applicants to take part in a free six week writing and sharing program. The next round is partially funded by The Pinkerton Foundation. 
  • BOOKed for the Summer
    • Most of us are witnessing a decline in reading among youth. But in a 2024 parent survey, almost half of our families reported that their children became more engaged in reading as a result of their growing connection to the writing process. So we became inspired to create a fun community-driven workshop for both reading and writing to have the most impact! 
  • Sports Writing
    • Writopia is a safe space for a diverse range of writers and young people. We are so happy to finally honor, beginning this summer, our sports lovers with a workshop where they can dig into their passion for the game through a writer’s lens.

New Titles

Part of the joy of working at Writopia is the ongoing opportunity to learn and grow from our writers and from each other, and the ability to channel and elevate our new insights into our work. Please help us congratulate our staff for another incredible year, including those who have earned new titles:

  • Rebecca Wallace-Segall is now Chief Executive Officer.
  • Yael Schick is now Executive Director.
  • Matthew Jellison is now Associate Director of Education.
  • Elsa Bermúdez is now Associate Director of Specialty Programs and Brooklyn Regional Manager (Interim).
  • Michaela Florio is now Regional Manager, The Bay Area.
  • Alex Minier is now Office Manager and Accounting Specialist .
  • Shanille Martin is now Program Manager.
  • Jem Werner is now Registration and Overnight Programs Coordinator.
  • Carly Sorenson is now Registration Coordinator.
  • Bianca Turetsky, Associate Director of Programs and Brooklyn Regional Manager, will be taking a one-year leave to pursue her Masters in Education Leadership, Organizations, and Entrepreneurship at the Harvard School of Education. We are so excited to learn from her upon her return in June 2025!

Board of Directors News

  • Each year, our Board of Directors meets quarterly to review financials and address Writopia Lab's overall organizational needs. This super smart, dedicated, and skilled group of individuals brings publishing, education, theater arts, fundraising, compliance, legal, and leadership expertise to us on an ongoing basis. We are so grateful to them! We are especially are excited to welcome three new members:
    • Warren Hrung, Chair, Audit Committee
    • John Plummer, Member, Fundraising Committee
    • Amy Smith, Member, Executive Committee

Alumni Spotlight 

Alumni Education Spotlights 

  • Congratulations Mrinalini Sisodia Wadhwar, Columbia College ’24, Salutatorian, and Writopia’s first alumna that we know of to become a Rhodes Scholar! Her history thesis also won departmental honors as well as the Albert Marion Elsberg Prize.
  • Congratulations Maya Mitrasinovic, who also just graduated from Columbia University, after serving as the City News Editor at the University newspaper, The Spectator. What’s next? Congratulations on winning a Fulbright grant to study in Cyprus!
  • Congratulations to Jessica Zhao, who had run and contributed political pieces and features to our WriCampia newspaper for years, and who just graduated from George Washington University! She is currently looking for a position on Capitol Hill and we recommend her with the highest praise to anyone looking for a hard-working, super dedicated, and smart staffer!
  • Congratulations Sophie Nelson, who just graduated from Oberlin, recently co-authored a philosophy paper, now forthcoming in the Journal of Consciousness Studies.

Alumni Career Spotlights 

  • Follow Emma Goldberg and Nico Grant at The New York Times for brilliant features on business and technology, Sam Levine who writes on politics for The Guardian, and Sneha Day, who is an education reporter for the Texas Tribune! We are also excited to share that poet Nora Miller is editor-in-chief of a journal and small press called Ghost Proposal, Maxine Charles is a book editor at Flatiron Books (Macmillan Big 5 publishing), and Hannah Reale is serving as Associate Digital Editor for GBH, Boston’s chapter of NPR.
  • And our biggest alumni shoutouts of all go to the creative writing youth development experts in our midst: the amazing Jem Werner, Carly Sorenson, Zoe Donovan, Eunju Namkung, and 
    Lil Gellman who bring creative writing inspiration and organizational leadership to our workshops and camps throughout the year! 

Special thank you to Matthew Jellison and Literary Submissions Intern Naomi Jeske for researching and curating our monthly submissions opportunities newsletter! Each year, dozens of our students and staff have the added thrill of winning recognition for their dedication and fine skill through these outlets.

Do you have any exciting awards or publication news to share that we didn't know about?  Fill out this form and we will include it here.

Youth Awards and Accomplishments 2021-2022


 2021-2022 Publications

We are so proud of all of our writers who took the risk of submitting their work for publication or recognition this year, and we are so happy for those who won recognition. Always remember: a writer isn’t a writer because she wins awards; a writer is someone who has the motivation and passion to write and to submit regardless of the result. We love reading all of your work! It is an honor to be a part of each of your writing journeys within the workshop and beyond, as you navigate the challenges and excitement of sharing your work more broadly.Congratulations:

2021-2022 Awards

Fewer than 1% of submissions win national recognition from the Scholastic Awards each year. Our writers won 15 medals, including one American Voices Award.Congratulations:
  • Annabelle Baird, Liana Hwang, Leila Jackson, Mia LaBianca, Marissa Michel, Michelle Qiao, Elizabeth Shvarts, Haohan Sima, Avantika Singh, Hudson Warm, Tessa Wheeler, and Ziyi Yan.
  • Seven Writopians were American Voices nominees for the 2022 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, including Ruhani Chhabra, Alex Cheng, Sabbia Gale-Donnelly, Leila Jackson, Marissa Michel, Michelle Qiao, and Hudson Warm.
  • Writopians from across the United States also received over 200 regional key awards from the 2022 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.
Over 8,000 kids applied to the Young Arts awards; 159 became finalists and only 21 won recognition for their writing.
  • Congratulations to Michelle Qiao, a Young Arts award winner. 
  • Congratulations to Emily Maremont, who was a Young Arts runner-up.
Congratulations Mariah Mendoza and Ryen Jones, who each received the Meringoff Valedictory Prize and Scholarship. 
Congratulations Noelle Kolmin, who won an Honorable Mention in Stone Soup's March 2022 Flash Contest.


Worldwide Plays Festival

  • This year we hosted our thirteenth annual Worldwide Plays Festival!
    Congratulations to the featured playwrights: Samuel Bachman • Eleanor Benowitz • Sierra Blanco • Raymond Cedars • Julia Cramer • Nala Delgado • Sanja Greenawalt • Stephanie Groves • Sophia Hall • Amelia Harrington • Riddha Iyengar • Kamya, Nehal, Maria, and Saphyia • Kamya, Dayvion, and Allenell • Mame-Diarra Kane • Robbie Kluger • Leiya Liu • Nova Macknik-Conde • Timia McCoade • Adiyah Parham • Eli Prager • Maylin Quick • Analia Rivera • Maya Ruben • Brishti Sarkar • Eve Shafer • Clio Taylor •  Annelie Valla • Siena Vega • Hudson Warm • Izzy Weitzman • Tessa Wheeler • Sasha Wolf-Powers • Grace Zhang • Jonathan Zhang
Click here to watch the plays being performed live in Bryant Park!


Congratulations to these writers who shared at one of our readings!

  • Odin Adeler • Nadine Avery • Daniela Avrekh • Zara Banks • Sienna Beck • Willa Beck • Samuel Behar • Tsofia Bloch-Elkouby • Adele Cao • Dylan Castillo • Lucas Castillo • Danan Chan • Kenneth Chen • Charlie Chi • Penelope Chi • Remi Chi • Sheila Cohen • Akshinta Das • Nala Delgado • Jessica Draper • Lily Ehling • Matteo Fiorese • Rory Frasch • Sarah Froman • Sabbi Gale-Donnelly • Shayan Gharib • Soraya Gharib • Ruyi Gong • Emma Goode • Ananya Govind • Will Hahn • Cameron Hendrick • Avery Hudgins •  Rena Jalon • Abigail (Crowley) Keating • Stella Kerwin • Antonio Klebanski • Robbie Kluger • Noelle Kolmin • Kuhu Kothari • Krish Kubba • Camilla Leung • Florence Bass Lloyd • Gary Ma • Nova Macknik-Conde • Matilda Magaldi • Stella Magaldi • Bernadette Mahoney • Eliot Malis • Oscar Manigian • David Meyers • Eva Michaelson • Samuel Mirer • Shruthi Narayanan • Miriam Neptune • Quincy Nielsen • Anna Olteanu • Calvin Osterman • Gabriela Pabon • Nicolo Petrosino • Tara Prakash • Harper Ragle • Aliyah Reinisch • Analia Rivera • Justin A. Rodriguez • Noah Salinger • Savannah Samuels • Eva Scobie • Eve Shafer • Aariz Siddiqui •  Aashvi Singh • Sidarth Singh • Vikram Singh • Luke Shin • Sabine Song • Quinn Stromberg • Sienna Sullivan • Clio Taylor • Margalo Teich • Yanic Valbrune • Leah Valitt • Camilo Vergara-Benais • Suhana Verma • Sadie Walsh • Ziang Wang • Maya Wang-Habib • Alec Westergren • Tessa Wheeler • Mia Wilson • Duncan Wright • Dylan Wright • Ryuji Yadao • James Yao

Intern Spotlight

  • Sasha Wolf-Powers, a long-time Writopia writer, interned with us during the winter and spring trimesters. Check out the video he made for us below!
Click here to watch Sasha's video!

Leadership Councils / Environment / Social Justice Initiatives 

Writopia teens came together to build the Enviroactivism Club through Writopia Lab, Los Angeles. Their President, Themi, founded the Enviroactivism Club in May 2019 to explore the intersection between environmental activism and writing and how writing has untapped power to make change. Since then they have organized climate change activism events including beach clean-ups, free educational Nature Writing workshops, movie viewings, and they have been writing and producing newsletters to spread information about the dangers of climate change and what individuals can do to help the planet. Over the last year, these clubs have spread across all Writopia regions.Congratulations:
  • Los Angeles Enviroactivism Club Members: Dakota Cameron, Ella Kim, Emily Maremont, and Themi Perera.
  • Brooklyn Middle School Leadership Club: Tess Eller and Gabriela Weyler Dias 
    • Supply Drive / Homes for the Homeless
    • Collected canned goods, picture books, journals and pens  
  • UWS members: Kayla Castillo, Filimon Eisenberg, Michael (Teddy) Budzinsky
  • DC members: Michael Olson, Cameron Hendricks, Lily Erdman, David Wang, Adia Ware, and Aris Ware
Check out this video of our DC Writopians cleaning up trash!


  • Mia Wilson, Owen Berland, Paige McClusky, Lia Goldman, and Madelyn Duong Esther Motia, Diana Davidson, and Mason Avery came in second in the Seattle University tournament in March.
  • In our February tournament with Debate Spaces, Mason Avery won best speaker and Diana Davidson won the charisma award.
  • For our May public forum tournament, Writopia Lab as an institution had the cumulatively second highest rank in the novice league.

Publishing Lab Anthologies

We published three anthologies in the past year, and are excited to soon launch our AAPI book "Hello From Here: A Celebration of Asian American Identity."Hello From Here is a book filled with postcard letters and illustrations created by Asian American kids from all around the country. Open up this delightful package of stories to explore exciting holidays, mouth-watering foods, centuries-old traditions, and what it means to be Asian American.Congratulations to all the contributors! 

Alumni Spotlight

  • Kristjan Tomasson launched Writopia Lab's Junior Board!
    • Kristjan credits the dedicated mentors he had at Writopia Lab with developing his composition skills and nurturing his love of creative writing. When he became an instructor's assistant, he relished passing on what he had learned to fourth and fifth-grade Writopia students. During the summer, he worked with under-resourced youth in the Rockaways, teaching them how to express their emotions through the art of writing which was a wonderful and inspirational community service experience.
    • Email to be connected.

Our very own Sophia Hall: a 2023 Presidential Scholar!

We are excited to share that our very own Sophia Hall has not only been selected to be the DC Youth Poet Laureate, but also a 2023 Presidential Scholar! U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced the 2023 list of Presidential Scholars on Wednesday. Out of 3.7 million students nationwide, 5,000 candidates qualified for the 2023 awards. Only 161 made the final list, according to a statement from the Education Department. “U.S. Presidential Scholars have always represented the future of our country and the bright promise it holds. I want each of these remarkable students to know: your passion and intellect, pursuit of excellence, and spirit of service are exactly what our country needs,” Cardona said. “On behalf of President Biden, I am delighted to join your family, friends, and communities in celebrating your accomplishments. Aim high, share your talents, and continue embracing opportunities to lead as your exciting future unfolds.”

We at Writopia are thrilled but in no way surprised! Throughout high school, Sophia has brought passionate, fun-loving, and rigorous engagement to every conversation, creative arts project, writing workshop, social justice initiative, and literary event she has been a part of or led at Writopia. She reaches out to her Writopia mentors with partnership ideas and sees them through joyfully, thoroughly, and competently. Like so many powerful poets, her work is grounded in the challenges of her personal lived experience and her vision for a more just, fair world. Sophia’s extraordinary and equal abilities to connect, listen, share, and inspire with her writing are foundational to her future legacy. 

Sophia shared with us:  "I’m beyond grateful to have been selected as a Presidential Scholar by President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. Their administration has demonstrated their commitment to poetry through the appointment of both an Inaugural Poet and U.S. Poet Laureate, and their support of the National Commission of the Arts and Humanities. I hope to use my role as Presidential Scholar in conjunction with my role as DC Youth Poet Laureate to promote joy, literacy, and love of learning among youth in order to encourage future scholars of all backgrounds. Thank you to Writopia Lab for giving me the tools, resources, and the belief that I could do anything I set my mind to. Most of all, thank you to Rebecca. I first got in touch with her the summer after my freshman year. We spoke over the phone about the entrepreneurial writing contest and workshop I was creating for teenage writers. Since then, she has been my number one cheerleader for all the innovative pursuits I dream up. The community she built at Writopia welcomed me immediately and helped me soar."

by Sophia Hall
In second grade, we wrote nature poetry and planted cherry blossom trees at our school. We watched the trees grow alongside ourselves. Each spring, the petals bloom, giving joy and hope to the community. Just like the trees, the poetry we wrote also inspired hope for a better future. It was a powerful way to make change. 

Kids sit, journals open. “I am…” I prompt, listening to the scratch of pencils on paper. “I want… I hope… I dream…” Once everyone finishes writing, we share aloud. As Washington DC Youth Poet Laureate, I serve as an ambassador of both DC and poetry, so I lead poetry workshops to underserved youth in my community. It feeds into a curriculum of social-emotional learning that teaches them mindfulness, self-management, and responsibility, all empowered by poetry.

Onstage, my workshop kids perform pieces about their identity. The audience’s eyes gleam with tears. After each powerful poem, snaps and whispers of “thank you for sharing your story” fill the air. Poetry allows them to express their true selves, and, in turn, heal the community.

As editor-in-chief of Writopia’s social justice committee Turning the Page, I host roundtables and invite guest artists to address important issues in my community. We use poetry to tackle racism, sexism, homophobia, generational trauma, and financial literacy. Poems are seeds that, when buried in rich soil, can uproot the generational cycle of poverty and trauma. From the depths of darkness, winter, and war, poetry emerges into the light of day. Plant the seeds. Watch the community blossom. Watch us bloom. 
We are so happy for you, Sophia
Rebecca & Your Writopia Family  


National Newsletter 2021

In This Issue

Student Publication Highlights


  • Abey Weitzman won a Scholastic Silver Medal for his senior portfolio, “Disability.” Watch his powerful graduation speech below in which he mentions Writopia Lab.
  • Analia Rivera had a piece accepted to Alphabet Soup.
  • Carol Brahm-Robin published a review in Pank.
  • Jordan Ferdman won the National YoungArts Foundation Merit Winner in Writing: Creative Nonfiction.
  • Josie West published a Letter to the Editor in The New York Times.
  • Lyra Kois was a winner of the New York Times Annual Review Contest.
  • Petra Brusiloff had her full length play, “Processing…,” produced off-Broadway at Theater East.
  • Sofia Schaffer won an American Voice Medal and a Ray Bradbury Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy.
  • Our writers won over 260 regional Scholastic Writing Awards including six American Voices Nominees and 13 Medals including ten Gold Medals, two American Voices Awards, one Ray Bradbury Award, and one Best in Grade Award!
Chaya Tong's college essay was featured in the New York Times. Read the article here!
Watch long-time Writopian Abey Weitzman's graduation speech above!

Instructor Achievements

  • Celine Anelle-Rocha published the following: “Had We Stayed” in Puerto Del Sol: Black Voices Series, 23 April 2021; “Mango” in The Acentos Review, March 2021; “The Harlem House” in Solar, Vol. 2, Spring 2021; and “Mary Guillory and the Righteous Cause” in Fatal Flaw, Vol. 2, Fall 2020.
  • Christina Connett-Gonzalez had a poem published in Toho Journal, Volume 2 Issue 2.
  • Jacquelyn Stolos’s debut novel "Edendale" was named a literary finalist in the 2020 Forward INDIES Book of the Year Awards. 
  • Jane Young’s story "7-11, True and Just" was published in Rock and a Hard Place, Issue #4.
  • Kaili Turner’s piece was published in the Renascence edition of Yellow Arrow. She is also performing in "When We Breathe Native Voices" at the Autry Playwrights workshop. Her sketch "Maybe it's Melanin" is an official selection of the 1st ABFF Comedy Festival.
  • Kristin Kemper has been doing the lettering for the "Geronimo Stilton" graphic novels from Scholastic Graphix. Book Three ("The Great Rat Rally!") comes out November 2nd.
  • Madeleine Cravens became the Max Ritvo Poetry Fellow at Columbia University, and was also awarded first place in the 2020 Narrative Magazine's annual 30 Below contest. In addition, her poems have been published in The Florida Review, IMAGE Journal, The New Ohio Review, The Raleigh Review, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and she has two book reviews forthcoming in The Brooklyn Rail
  • Madeline Steven’s piece “Joyland” was published in Juked Magazine, and she is the Freya Project's 2021 Meret Grant Recipient.
  • Madeline Taylor has two upcoming flash fiction publications in Emerge Literary Journal, June 2021 issue, and her piece "United by Flight," was published in the Tiny Modern Love section of The New York Times.
  • Rita Feinstein had poems published in Rust + Moth, Rogue Agent, Okay Donkey, and Thimble, and has poems forthcoming in Blue Earth Review, and short stories published in CutBank and Yalobusha Review.
  • Sanina Clark joined AK Press as the head editor of the "Black Dawn" series and joined A Gathering of Tribes Magazine as Associate Editor; she is also hosting the U.S. Book Show YA Editor's Pick Panel.
  • Yael Schick is a 2021 Fellow for the Women in Film/Black List Feature Residency.

College Acceptances

  • Congratulations to our graduating seniors who have been accepted to: 
    • Bard, Barnard, Boston University, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Emerson College, Fordham, Harvard, Kenyon, McGill, New School, Princeton, Smith, Stanford, St. John’s College, Syracuse University, Tufts, Tulane, UCLA, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, University of Rochester, Vassar, Wellesley, Yale, and many more wonderful universities and colleges! 
  • Additionally, at least six of our writers have won prestigious scholarships including:
    • Two Posse scholarship winners, longtime Writopia writers: Maya Delmont to Smith and Jaidan Robinson to Connecticut College
    • Four Questbridge Scholarship winners: Haily Rosario, Jasmiry Bello, and Iovanni Romarion, Thais Santos to  Brown, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Chicago
    • Two Meringoff scholarship winners: Courtney Chalera and Alberto Ramos. 

More of our 2021 graduated who grew up at Writopia!

Exciting Writopia Alumni News!

  • Emma Goldberg: Writopia Lab’s first-ever student just published "Life on the Line", our first book written by an alum released by a major publisher! Filled with gorgeous writing, this page turner captures the changing landscape of medicine through the eyes of six new doctors on the frontlines during an international pandemic. Since she started writing for the New York Times last year, Emma has visited our Newspaper Workshops a few times per year to inspire our teens with her stories, insights, and passion for rigorous journalism. Best of all, Emma will be headlining our November 8th benefit! Look out for the save the date.
  • Eunju Namkung: Eunju has been enriching the Writopia Lab family with her insight, humor, and contagious work ethic since 2008, first as a teen writer and then as a full-time staff member for two years. In April, she returned to working with us again part-time, this time on our current Diversity, Equity, Inclusion initiative, and will be returning to WriCampia this summer as an instructor!
  • Katie Hartman has returned to us to teach essay writing workshops after years of evolving into a stand out, energetic, and innovative NYC educator. The Shefa School is lucky to have her as a special education teacher during the year, and we are lucky to have her during the summer!
  • Lily Gellman returns to us after working in publishing for the past five years and has been taking on our creative writing, essay writing, newspaper, and debate workshops with incredible dedication. She will also be joining us for WriCampia this summer!
A few more of our wonderful graduating Writopians when they were younger. We're so proud of them!

Writopia Lab Professional Accolades

  • Two years ago, Danielle Sheeler, longtime Director of Camps and Curriculum at Writopia, wrote a paper for the Columbia School of Social Work on Writopia’s in-school impact. This fall she reworked her paper now titled “Inviting Joy into room Writing Instruction: An Exploration of the Use of Creative Writing Within the Neoliberal Context of Standardization” and submitted it to Emily Klein, Ph.D. and Monica Taylor, Ph.D’s journal, The Educational Forum. It was accepted for publication for November, 2021. We are so proud of Danielle’s brilliance, hard work, and dedication to our mission.

  • Our Executive Director, Rebecca Wallace-Segall, was awarded a scholarship to participate in Columbia Business School’s certificate program in Organizational Excellence for Nonprofit Leaders this spring. She loved the opportunity to study the current literature with renowned professors in the field for over 90 hours on topics ranging from Leading Inclusivity, Managing Conflict, Operational Excellence, Values-Based Leadership, and much more.

  • Yael Schick, Director of Programs, has been accepted to Harvard Graduate School of Education and will earn her Masters in Education Leadership, Organizations, and Entrepreneurship during the 2021-2022 school year. She is a recipient of a Saul Zaentz Fellowship, awarded to emerging leaders in early childhood education. We are so proud of her! Best of all, Yael will be working at Writopia part-time during the year before she plans to return with increased expertise, poised to deepen and broaden Writopia’s reach and impact in a new leadership role. 

Writopia Lab Staff Sector-Wide

Accomplishments & Impact

  • In January, Rob Roy, who is now our Director of Programs Operations, oversaw with his team the adjudication of 6500 submissions to the Scholastic Awards in The Bay Area, Washington DC,  Westchester, and Chicago. (Writopia Lab is the affiliate partner in those regions.) The team ran this operation seamlessly and thoroughly, and followed up with an inspiring, national online ceremony.  

  • Three years ago, The Pinkerton Foundation agreed to fund the Positive Literacy Collaborative, an idea that the Executive Director of Youth Services at Goddard Riverside, Susan Matloff-Nieves, and Rebecca Wallace-Segall dreamed up over vegan soup while considering ways to achieve greater literacy impact in the sector. After three years of co-building and co-processing together, Susan and Rebecca, funded by The Pinkerton Foundation, have begun co-writing a narrative recapitulation of our partnership experience to present at conferences and publish in the field.

Writopia Lab Staff Promotions!

  • Janelle Williams, who has been with us for five years, is now Associate Director of Programs.
  • Lena Roy, who has been with us for 12 years, is now Director of Teen Programs.
  • Rob Roy, after ten years of serving Writopia New York Metro North, is now Writopia Lab’s Director of Programs Operations.
  • Madeline Taylor, after five years serving in our national office in NYC, is now Writopia Lab’s Associate Director of Programs Operations.
  • Elsa Bermudez, our Senior Programs Manager, after six years of working in our NYC office, has moved to our Los Angeles office. She is continuing to manage our Homes for the Homeless partnership and co-manage our Write to Recognition program while teaching in Los Angeles in person and online, and is training to oversee the health and growth of Writopia L.A.
  • After serving for two years as program coordinators, Rachel Dean, based in Westchester, and Rita Feinstein, based in DC, are now Writopia Program Managers.
  • After three years of teaching workshops and running the Songwriting Program at WriCampia, Malcolm Knowles is now Division Head of Upper Boys.  

Welcome to our New 2021 Full-Time Staff

  • Alex Tlatelpa, our new Accounting and Operations Specialist! 
  • Andriy Repik, our Full-Time summer IT and Operations Specialist  
  • Rachel Zubrin, our new DC Program Coordinator 
  • Will Bond, our Full-Time Media Coordinator  

New Partnerships

  • The Bronx: In January, Danielle and Janelle intiatited and launched weekly creative writing and GED test preparation workshops for eight writers at Bronx Connect, an Alternative to Detention Center, for writers ages 15-24. 

  • New Mexico: In February, we began partnering with Pojoaque Valley High School AVID Program, working with high school seniors from low income backgrounds both on college essay and analytical essay writing. Six instructors are working across three es.

  • Los Angeles: In February, our West Coast staff ran our first program with the Museum of Contemporary Art. It was a one-day program with teens enrolled in a multidisciplinary arts program they run.

  • Brooklyn: In February, Brooklyn Regional Manager, Bianca Turetsky initiated and launched a partnership with the Brooklyn Friends School. Our staff ran an amazing spoken word workshop for 225 elementary and middle school students.

  • Brooklyn: In March, Bianca also oversaw the launching of a free three-week creative writing program at the Park Slope Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library for tweens and teens.

  • NYC: We’ve served thousands of Success Academy writers from across NYC, providing enrichment through creative writing and specialized workshops. 

  • NYC: This summer we are working with the K-8 writers at the Harlem Village Academy, infusing their summer learning with mystery writing, graphic novels, and creative writing!  

Longtime Partnerships Highlights

  • This school year, thanks especially to Paddy Spence and Kim Hartman’s continued support and other individual donors’ support, we extended our work at PS 89, a Title 1 school in The Bronx, serving 300 young writers in 10 elementary and middle school rooms for free throughout the entire school year.

  • Chappaqua Middle Schools in Westchester: Lena helped the PTA transform their one day community event, The Young Writers Workshop, into a three session program run entirely by Writopia, serving 64 middle schoolers and culminating in a reading at the end of March. 

  • Homes for the Homeless: Yael Schick, Director of Programs, is continuing to serve pre-school children and Senior Manager, Elsa Bermudez teens remotely through our Language Play Program and our Write to Recognition program (funded by The Pinkerton Foundation and Andrea Stern)

  • Goddard Riverside workshops: Since January, we have begun working with 15 children in small groups remotely, and one-on-one, and the numbers are still growing. This partnership is funded by The Pinkerton Foundation, as part of the Positive Literacy Collaborative.   

Worldwide Plays Festival

Worldwide Plays Festival: There is A Field: A Microplay Festival For Our Moment; For this year’s festival, we were inspired by a poem by the Sufi Poet, Rumi, who wrote:

“Out beyond the ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing

There is a field.

I will meet you there”

We produced over 50 plays; some virtually, over Zoom, and others live through socially-distanced outdoor readings in Central Park and Riverside Park. Some questions our writers considered: What does it mean to pursue justice? What does it mean to engage with someone on the opposing side? What do we risk when we engage? How can we ever get to forgiveness? What is the space after forgiveness?


Writopia Lab Publication Highlights

  • Writopia’s LGBTQ anthology, spearheaded by staff members Tasnim Hussain and Matthew Jellison, received 35 submissions in February and is in the works to be published in June for pride month.

  • Writopia’s College Essay Anthology spearheaded by Writopia's founder Rebecca Wallace-Segall alongside directors Danielle Sheeler, Yael Schick, Léna Roy, and Janelle Williams featuring 30 “fiercely individualistic” college essays of the decade.

  • Turning the Page, the Creative Portfolio teens social justice committee created an anthology of their work.
  • We Can Still Connect Vol 1 and Vol 2, spearheaded by staff member Matthew Jellison, is a collection of poetry and prose from kids and teens all over the world reflecting on their time during COVID-19. 
  • Love Letters, spearheaded by staff members Janelle Williams and Rebecca Wallace-Segall, is a collection of letters to the mothers and fathers of the African Diaspora.

Writopia Lab is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that fosters joy, literacy, and critical thinking in young people from all backgrounds through creative writing. We run super fun and productive student-centered creative writing workshops led by published writers across the country. Our writers are published or win more recognition each year than any other group of students in the nation. Learn more or join the community by enrolling in a workshop!

Past Newsletters:

Here's to an Award Winning 2020!

At Writopia, we are all writers. We know first hand the value of being published or winning outside recognition for our writing. Best of all, as writing instructors, we witness the transformative nature of this endeavor on our youths. Indeed, as more of our writers win recognition each year, we see their confidence increase and their identity as writers strengthen. After all, most writers have a deep desire to connect to a wide audience through the written word, and this is an important first step in that journey.Check out our writers' work in Writopia Publishing Lab and a list of their accomplishments beyond Writopia Lab below!

Hot Off the Press!

Teen Writing, Ages 12-19
Children's Writing, Ages 6-11
Young Writer Awards & Publications

Abey Weitzman, recipient of this year's prestigious American Voices Medal, at Carnegie Hall this year. Listen to Writopia Lab's new podcast, Plot Builds Character, featuing Abey here.
Congratulations to all of Writopia Lab’s writers from across the country who submitted work to the 2019 Scholastic Writing Awards! More than 100 Writopians received more than 200 regional awards, including 72 Gold Keys, 74 Silver Keys, and 91 Honorable Mentions.
Additionally, congratulations to the following Writopians whose works went on to receive national medals: Julia Arancio, Lena DiBiasio, Kaya Dierks, Emma Dollar, Sophia Eno, Sabbia Gale-Donnelly, Ella Goldblum, Rina Hisajima, Foster Hudson, Annelie Hyatt, Leya Ivanov, Ayelet Kaminer, Saule Konstantinavicius, Violet Kopp, Hannah Mayerfield, Sarah Nachimson, Sophie Nadel, Ava Neumaier, Lily O'Donnell, Petra Popper-Freedman, Christina Poulin, Megha Ravi, Claire Reisberg, Anna Rosenbloom, Ayla Schultz, Sarah Senese, Abigail Sylvor Greenberg, Ava Vernor, Sarah Waring, Abraham Weitzman, Emily Xu, Claire Yu
Below are just some of our students' accomplishments this past year. Please email if a piece you wrote at Writopia has been published in 2019.
Ava Choi's piece Children in White was published by Chappaqua Library Young Writer's Contest.

Gracie Bea Frasch's piece Salty Strong Currents was published by Chappaqua Library Young Writer's Contest.

Devisi Goel's piece Brief Moments in Time was published by Chappaqua Library Young Writer's Contest.

Sophie Nadel's piece The Life and Death of Violet Barnes was published by the Chappaqua Library Contest.

Alberto Ramos was awarded the Sara McMickle Summer Scholarship
Sarah Senese's poem "The Patina Effect" was published in The Best Teen Writing of 2019.

Sarah Senese's poem "The Patina Effect" was published in The Best Teen Writing of 2019.

Emmie Shapiro's piece, Sunflowers, was published in Chappaqua Library's Young Writer's Context.

Tessa Wheeler's pieces, Snow Day and My Psychiatrist is a bag of Doritos, was published in the Chappaqua Library Young Writer's Contest.

Yifei Liu, Ishaana Misra, Aparajita Shimpi, and Alex Stephan's film, The Perfect Shot, was selected for the Kids' Tribeca Film Festival 2019.
Thank you to Abby Coleman, Writopia's Submissions Coordinator, for researching opportunities for these writers and guiding them through the submissions process.
College Essay Successes
Congratulations to our college essay writers! In 2019, they earned admissions to these schools and many others:
Barnard College, Boston University, Bucknel University , Colorado College, Harvard University, LeMoyne, Loyola, New School, New York University, Northwestern, Oberlin, Pace, Pace University, Rutgers University, Seton Hall, Skidmore, Stanford, SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Albany, Swarthmore, Temple University, Tufts University, University of Chicago, University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas Austin, Washington University, Yale University, and many more!
Forever Writopian Alumni Collective

Writopia Lab Alumna Eunju Namkung.
Thank you Eunju Namkung for initiating the Forever Writopian Alumni Collective! And congratulations for launching her new initiative, Description Pills, a communications and marketing firm that primarily serves public policy-oriented organizations including associations, educational institutions and non-profits.
Congratulations to each of the following alumni:

Lennarsha Prescott for graduating from Hunter College.

Rachel Calnek-Sugin for graduating from Yale and for being published in the Yale Literary Magazine.

Maxine Charles for graduating from Bucknell University

Emma Goldberg for starting her new job at the New York Times.

Katie Hartman completing Teach for America and starting her teaching career at The Shefa School.

Louis Evans for his publishing debut in Escape Pod

Sam Levine for publishing high profile stories in the Huffington Post this year, including this one.

Milana Meytes for beginning her Fullbright Scholarship in the fall.

Nora Miller for gradutating from University of Iowa with an MFA in poetry.

Julia Smith for graduating from Smith College.
Tory Testa for graduating from Stanford University.
If you'd like us to share your news, or find out how you can get involved, contact
Leadership Opportunities

High School students in Writopia's High School Internship programs serve as role models and provide workshop, editorial, and moral support to our 6 to 9 year-old writers. They now also help writers prepare for readings, and support them at the events themselves.

A high school intern engaging with a
young workshopper.
Our LA writers inspired Civic Engagement and Activism, a new youth leadership program that fosters awareness and activism surrounding climate change and human impact on the environment. Our New York City teens created a gun control group and a book club called Paperbactivism, led by Madeline Taylor.
Teens in the Paperbactivism book club.

On the Horizon
Writopia Lab Executive Director Rebecca Wallace-Segall and Goddard Riverside’s Associate Executive Director Susan Matloff-Nieves to form The Positive Literacy Collaborative, funded by the Pinkerton Foundation, whose mission is to bring inspiring, effective writing programs to underserved youths throughout Goddard and the broader youth development community.
Writopia Lab at the NYC Pride March: Join Writopia at the annual march on June 30th, 2019!
Writopia at the 2018 Pride parade.

Love Letters, Writopia Lab's collection of poetry and memoirs celebrating the African Diaspora, is being considered for publication at a major publishing house!
Writopia Lab runs Scholastic Writing Awards affiliates in San Francisco, Washington DC, and New York Metro North, serving thousands of writers per year. We are expanding that partnership to run next year's Scholastic Writing Awards ceremony in Chicago!

2019 Impact Report
At Writopia, we measured both our social emotional learning impact and our literacy impact this past school year, and we are happy to share these results in both quantitative and qualitative terms.

Click this graph to read more!
A Message from Our Executive Director 
Writopia Lab's Rebecca Wallace-Segall.

This has been such an incredible school year at Writopia across the country! We served over 5,000 invigorated kids and teens in safe space, censorship-free writing workshops at our labs, in schools, and in partnership with community-based organizations. To read more, click here!
New Initiatives
Thank you to the Joseph H. Flom Foundation for enabling Yael Schick and Ethan Shafran Moltz to expand their innovative Language Play preschool film program to two new schools: Homes for the Homeless Prospect Family Inn and Sojourner Truth School in Harlem. Ask us for a private link to a few of their movies!

A student at the Prospect Universal
pre-school works on his film. 
Congratulations to Danielle Sheeler for creating the amazing Narrative Therapy program which bridges creative writing with a deliberate therapeutic approach. And congratulations to her for receiving her second Master's Degree, this one in social work from Columbia University!
Writopia Lab, in conjunction with Columbia University School of Social Work, is now offering Narrative Therapy Workshops and private sessions.
Writopia Lab's Danielle Sheeler.
Congratulations to Janelle Williams for spearheading the second annual Teen Writer's Summit! With seven teen-led panel discussions sitting 24 literary leaders, TWS touched on topics such as creating a diverse and conscious literary climate, facing rejection in the writing world, and journalistic reporting without bias.
In continuing the TWS mission to curate a diverse platform for teens to assess and advocate their writing, there will be many more events to come!
Panelists speaking at 2018's Teen Writer's Summit.
New Writopia Publications

Memories in Every Bite: A Kingsbridge High School Cookbook - Congratulations to Ethan Shafran Moltz for working with Kingsbridge International High School to produce this beautiful collection of recipies and memoirs from the English as a Second Language es.

Things You Need in a Wildfire: The H4H 2018 Anthology - Congratulations to Elsa Bermudez and Abby Coleman for producing this amazing anthology of the Homes for the Homeless workshoppers.

The Parenthetical and The Ellipsis - Congratulations to Matthew Jellison for publishing the latest issues! Go to and to read them!


Event Spotlight: Writopia Lab's Benefit 2019
This year, Writopia Lab celebrated the Worldwide Plays Festival's 10th Anniversary with our annual Gala.
Since 2010, Writopia Lab has produced 489 productions of young playwrights around the country!

Congratulations to Dan Kitrosser for helming the Worldwide Plays Festival for the 10th year in a row!

Thank you to donors and funders, especially David Sherman, Kim Hartman, The Pinkerton Foundation, the Meringoff Foundation, the Joseph H. Flom Foundation, the Crosswick's Foundation, and the Writopia Alumni Association.

Dan Kitrosser speaking at Writopia Lab's
2019 Gala.
Instructor Awards & Accomplishments
Emma Sheinbaum, New York City instructor, published "Something Normal" in Juked Magazine (January 2019). She was also the Semifinalist in The Center for Women Writers' International Literary Awards: The Penelope Niven Creative Nonfiction Award, judged by Melissa Febos (for a personal essay titled "Clouds from Plan B")

Jessica McHugh, Washington DC instructor, published the following pieces:
 Of Human Symphonies (Unnerving Magazine). Ghost of Hyperia (Hellhole: An Anthology of Subterranean Terror)
Amity in Bloom (Ashes & Entropy)
Things She Left in the Woods (Lost Films), Always a Bride (Forbidden Futures), We'll Know the Reason When the World Parts its Lips (Forbidden Futures).

Kimberly Faith Waid, Los Angeles Regional Manager, was 
Shortlisted for the 2019 Tennessee Williams Fiction Contest (top ten).

Alexandra Cohl, New York City instructor, r
eceived the Teacher-Writer Award at The City College of New York.

Madeline Stevens, Los Angeles instructor, is publishing a novel on August 13th called Devotion.

Bianca Turetsky, Brooklyn Regional Manager, published her books Magic on the Map # 1: Let's Mooove! and Magic on the Map #2: The Show Must Go On with Random House Children's Books, co-written by Writopia Lab instructor Courtney Sheinmel.

Cathleen Bell, New York City instructor, published her novel 
Weregirl: Typhon in 2018.

Kailyn McCord, Bay Area instructor, 
will be a resident at The Ucross Foundation this fall, at work on my CNF manuscript, and have also been accepted for a Nonfiction Workstudy at the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference in August. Any details, don't hesitate to ask!

Justin Allen, New York Metro North instructor,
 wrote an original story for a Dances Patrelle production staged at New York Live Arts.

Gina Stevenson, New York City instructor, was a 
Austin Film Festival Pitch Competition Finalist and Playwriting Competition Semifinalist. She also received her MFA from Columbia University.

Elsa Bermudez, Head Instructor and Curriculum Developer, wrote and directed a show called Cleveland of New York, set to premier in New York City's Magnet Theater on August 5th at 7:30.

Our Staff

Writopia Lab's full-time staff.
Exciting changes for our full-time staff: Lena Roy is now our Associate Creative Director of Programs at Writopia Lab and Regional Director of the NYMN region; Michaela Florio, former program coordinator in Westchester, will be serving as Regional Manager in the Bay Area as of the fall; Ethan Shafran Moltz is now our Media Manager; Madeline Taylor is now our Program Administration Manager; Abby Coleman is now our Associate Director of Programs.
Writopia continues to grow in amazing and wonderful ways and it wouldn't be possible without our nationwide team of full-time staff: Michael Alessi, Elsa Bermudez, Abby Coleman, Rachel Crocker, Mikaela Dunitz, Rita Feinstein, Michaela Florio, Tom Flynn, Nancy Gauhan, Kyle Henry, Matthew Jellison, Malcolm Knowles, Lucian Mattison, Milana Meytes, Laura Owsiany, Léna Roy, Rob Roy, Yael Schick,Ethan Shafran Moltz, Sarah Shatan-Pardo, Danielle Sheeler, Derek Souza, Jacquelyn Stolos, Madeline Taylor, Bianca Turetsky, Kimberly Faith Waid, Jeremy Wallace-Segall, Rebecca Wallace-Segall, and Janelle Williams.

Writopia Lab is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that fosters joy, literacy, and
critical thinking in young people from all backgrounds through creative writing. We run fun and productive student-centered creative writing workshops led by published writers across the country. Our writers are published or win more recognition each year than any other group of students in the nation. Learn more or join the community by enrolling in a workshop!

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Here's to an Award-Winning 2018! We are pleased to announce our student, instructor, and organizational accomplishments of the past year. Please let us know if you would like us to add additional news in an upcoming newsletter.

Hot Off the Press! Teen Writing, Ages 12-19 Teen Writing, Ages 6-11


Congratulations to Sophie Nadel (age 17), the latest Writopian to be recognized by the National YoungArts Foundation. Every year the YoungArts Foundation awards a select group of the nation's top young literary, performing, visual, and design artists. Sophie earned Merit recognition in Writing for her Creative Nonfiction.
Student Awards & Publications

Congratulations to all of our writers for their accomplishments! Thank you to Abby Coleman, Writopia's Submissions Coordinator, for researching opportunities for these writers and guiding them through the submissions process.
Below are just some of our students' accomplishments this past year. Please email if a piece you wrote at Writopia has been published in 2018! We will include it in our fall newsletter.

Sierra Blanco (age 15) had her poem "A Fight on the Bus" published in The New York Times Metropolitan Diary.
Jennifer Charlera (age 18) received the Meringoff Valedictory Prize.
Kaya Dierks (age 15) was named The New York Times Summer Reading Contest Winner for her Op-Ed piece "The Muggle Problem." She also received the Teen Ink Editor's Choice Award for her short story, "Yanji China," and won First Place in Columbia College Young Author's Competition for her piece, "My G-ddamn Pink House."
Jordan Ferdman (age 14) had her short story "A '90s Throwback"
published in Germinal.

Kayla Guo (age 17) had a short story published in the Claremont Review.
Ester Luna (age 14) had "Small Vignette Collection" published in Teen Ink.
Mariah Mendoza (age 13) had her poem "The Future" published in Teen Ink.
Sophie Nadel (age 17) was named the 2018 YoungArts national competition winner in Writing/Creative Non-Fiction (Merit).
Erinda Ratchford (age 11) was named Third Place Winner in Division I in the Summit Elks Essay Contest: Why Our Veterans Are America's Heroes.
Asha Roy (age 11) had her short story "Hope" published in The Writers' Slate.
Moe Sanders (age 17) received the Meringoff Valedictory Prize.
Nina Vigil (age 10) was named Second Place Winner of the Fall 2017 The Betty Award for her short story, "The Rockefeller Adventure," and had her essay "Rooftoppers" published in Stone Soup.
Sarah Waring (age 15) had her poetry performance piece "Summer Camp" published in The Asexual, and her poems "peaches," "alice," and "diana" published in Rookie.
Abraham Weitzman (age 14) had his essay "Just Keep Swimming" and his memoir "Journey from the Center of the Earth" published in Kid Spirit.
Kaia Wootton (age 11) had her poems "The Girl with the Flowers," "A Touch of Hope," "Anger," and "A Collection of Refugee Poems" published in Amazing Kids! Magazine.
Angela Wu (age 16) had her short story "A Small Juxtaposition" published in Teen Ink.
College Essay Successes

Congratulations to our college essay writers. In 2018, they earned admissions to these schools and many others:
Barnard, Boston College, Boston U, Brown, Buffalo, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Concordia, Cornell, Delaware, FIT, Georgetown, Johnson & Wales, Lasell College, MSM, UMiami, Northwestern, NYU, Oneonta, Princeton, Rhode Island, Skidmore, Stanford, Surrey-UK, UChicago, UCLA, USC, Vassar, Wesleyan, Westminster-UK
Student Spotlight: Tashane

"I never thought I would get this far,” Tashane says as she enters her midtown rehearsal studio. Abby Coleman and Elsa Bermudez, her longtime Writopia instructors, met Tashane in 2013 at Saratoga Family Inn, a Homes for the Homeless family shelter, when Writopia first started running ongoing programs there. Now, Tashane and her mentors were poised to see her hard work come to fruition on stage, produced and performed with energy, humor, and fine skill by NYC theater professionals. 

Tashane is a dedicated writer whose debut play, Assume, premiered at TheaterLab this May as part of Writopia Lab’s 2018 Worldwide Plays Festival.

​"Through her writing, Tashane explores the human condition, making us laugh, cry, wonder, and hope along with her characters,” Abby explains. “She often writes from the perspective of underrepresented voices and challenges her audience to assess their impact on the world.”

Tashane has been a leader among her peers, participating enthusiastically in group activities, offering poignant feedback, and encouraging her fellow writers to set, achieve, and exceed their goals. We at Writopia are so proud of her hard work and accomplishments.
Our Staff

Writopia continues to grow in amazing and wonderful ways and it wouldn't be possible without our nationwide team of full-time staff:

Michael Alessi, Elsa Bermudez, Hannah Boysko, Abby Coleman, Jocquelyn Downs, Mikaela Dunitz, Michaela Florio, Tom Flynn, Nancy Gauhan, Lyndsay Hall, Kyle Henry, David Kim, Malcolm Knowles, Scott Krier, Milana Meytes, Laura Owsiany, Sarah Park, Léna Roy, Rob Roy, Yael Schick, Ethan Shafran Moltz, Sarah Shatan-Pardo, Danielle Sheeler, Abby Sher, Madeline Taylor, Bianca Turetsky, Kimberly Faith Waid, Jeremy Wallace-Segall, Rebecca Wallace-Segall, and Janelle Williams.
Instructor Awards & Publications

Gabrielle J Bachoo's piece "My Inadvertent Death" was published in the Long River Review.
Melissa Baumgart's piece "You Have to Fail a Little" was published in Bright Wall/Dark Room, she is the winner of Hunger Mountain Journal for the Arts' 2018 Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult & Children's Writing. Melissa also completed her MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts in July 2017.
Elsa Bermudez wrote and performed in Magnet Theater's house sketch comedy team, Mama's Boy.
Sarah Bernstein's piece "Letters from a Gold Rush Mother" was published in The New Yorker's Shouts & Murmurs.
Alexandra Cohl's two nonfiction pieces, "Why Do I #LoveTeaching? It's Complicated!" and "Encouraging the Absurd or Uncomfortable: The Power of Validating Student Ideas" were published in New York School Talk.
Michaela Florio's piece "The Swans" was published in Madcap Review.

David Neilsen's middle-grade fantasy novel Beyond the Doors was published by Crown Books for Young Readers, and his middle-grade novel Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom won the Silver Falchion award for Best Tween/YA Horror or Fantasy novel of 2017.
Léna Roy had her and Charlotte Jones Voiklis' middle-grade biography, Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author of A Wrinkle in Time by her Granddaughters, published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
Samantha Stone's play Tommy's Girls was performed at Walkerspace (Soho Rep) Theater. She also received an award for "Excellence in and Dedication to The Beacon Program" and completed her MFA in playwriting at Fordham/Primary Stages.
Brigit Young's poetry was published in The Ocotillo Review, Snapdragon Literary Journal, and heART Journal. Her middle-grade novel WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS/LOST & FOUND, is due to be released on August 14th, and is a finalist for the 2018 Italian Andersen Award.
2018 Scholastic Writing Awards
Congratulations to all of Writopia Lab’s writers from across the country who submitted work to the 2018 Scholastic Writing Awards. Altogether, Writopians received nearly 400 regional awards.

In addition, we congratulate the following Writopians who received National Awards recognition in 2018:

Sarah Baldino (Silver Medal for Critical Essay)
Sarah Baldino (Silver Medal for Personal Essay & Memoir)
Zoe Ehrenkranz (Gold Medal for Poetry)
Jordan Ferdman (Gold Medal for Personal Essay & Memoir)
Sabbia Gale-Donnelly (Gold Medal for Poetry)
Ella Goldblum (Gold Medal for Poetry)
Michaela Habibulla (Gold Medal for Science Fiction & Fantasy)
Joanna Howson (Gold Medal for Poetry)
Joanna Howson (Silver Medal for Poetry)
Annelie Hyatt (Silver Medal for Poetry)
Leya Ivanov (Silver Medal for Short Story)
Leya Ivanov (Silver Medal for Flash Fiction)
Kaley Mamo (Silver Medal for Flash Fiction)
Kaley Mamo (Silver Medal for Flash Fiction)
Kaley Mamo (Silver Medal for Writing Portfolio)
Anna McNulty (Silver Medal for Journalism)
Marissa Michel (Silver Medal for Humor)
Fiona Moore (Silver Medal for Poetry)
Lily O'Donnell (Gold Medal for Science Fiction & Fantasy)
Christina Poulin (Silver Medal for Short Story)
Leelu Ravi (Silver Medal for Poetry)
William Schenck (Gold Medal for Personal Essay & Memoir)
Sarah Senese (Silver Medal for Poetry)
Gabrielle Sussman (Silver Medal for Humor)
Abigail Sylvor Greenberg (Gold Medal for Personal Essay & Memoir)
Abigail Sylvor Greenberg (Silver Medal for Poetry)
Abigail Sylvor Greenberg (Silver Medal for Poetry)
Abigail Sylvor Greenberg (Silver Medal for Poetry)
Jessica Thompson (Silver Medal for Personal Essay & Memoir)
Ben Togut (Gold Medal for Poetry)
Sydney Topiel (Silver Medal for Poetry)
Isha Vasudev (Gold Medal for Poetry)
Ava Vernor (Silver Medal for Poetry)
Christina Wang (Gold Medal for Short Story)
Flora White (Silver Medal for Novel Writing)
Karen Wu (Gold Medal for Personal Essay & Memoir)
New Programs

Youth Essay
Writing Conference
Rebecca Wallace-Segall, Danielle Sheeler, Milana Meytes, Elsa Bermudez, and Hannah Boysko.
Shoutout to Danielle Sheeler and Milana Meytes for designing and producing Writopia's first Youth Essay Conference: A Celebration of Ideas Across Disciplines! The event was hosted by the Center for Experimental Humanities at New York University on February 4th.

At this conference, the next generation of thinkers, writers, and leaders shared the ideas and research that they are most passionate about with a panel of their peers and the community at large. The panels formed organically from a pool of critical essays we received from writers ages 12-18 from all over the New York Tri-State area, which highlighted the concerns and commentary of the next generation.

Politics & Pens
Peter Cohen and Hannah Boysko and the first Politics & Pens camp with New York City Council member Helen Rosenthal and State Senator Liz Kruger (not shown).
Shoutout to Peter Cohen and Hannah Boysko for spearheading Writopia's first Politics & Pens full-day camp!

Writers start the day with a three-hour workshop in which they each play a member of Congress of “Minimerica,” a made-up country not unlike on our own. In the afternoons, writers have the opportunity to participate in a variety of multi-genre writing electives with a political spin. The week culminates in a mock session of Congress in which they vote on the policy created throughout the week, which is then signed or vetoed by an actual elective official. In last week's summer camp, NY State Senator Liz Kruger considered and ultimately vetoed a bill to enact limited hunting of unicorns.

Scholastic Writing Awards
Regional Affiliates

Bay Area Scholastic Awards recipients showcase their work.
Beginning with the 2018-2019 Awards season, Writopia will be producing the Schoalstic Art & Writing Awards' California Bay Area Writing Region and co-running the Chicago Writing Region with the Chicago Area Writing Project.

Writopia has adminstered the D.C. Writing Region since 2011, and the Hudson-to-Housatonic Writing Region since 2013. Each year, we convene jurors for blind adjudication and invite recognized writers to a celebratory regional ceremony.
Upper West Music Fest

Songwriting Program Developer Malcolm Knowles.
Shoutout to Malcolm Knowles for curating Writopia's first Upper West Music Fest on May 19th!

An opportunity for teen musicians to showcase their best, original songs, the Fest welcomed rock bands, rappers, and solo acts alike.
SummerLinks and Pipeline Spoken Word Workshops

Our New York Metro North Regional Manager Léna Roygarnered donations in honor of her 50th birthday totaling $3000 to bring Writopia programs to Neighbors Link, serving immigrant communities in Westchester County, NY. 

The SummerLinks creative writing workshop begins in July. The pipeline Spoken Word workshop will run throughout the fall and culminate in participation at Writopia's Spoken Word Night at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City.
Writopia in Schools
Writopia worked with more than 1000 low income students this year in public schools, community based organizations, shelters and treatment centers.

Writopia's Janelle Williams with students in Writopia’s in-school writing workshop at P.S. 89 in the Bronx.

Writopia's Jocquelyn Downs with students in the VSA Playwright Discovery Program workshop at H.D. Woodson High School in northeast Washington, D.C.

Students at P.S. 149 Sojourner Truth school after reading their work aloud on the last day of creative writing workshops with Writopia.

Recent immigrants from the Dominican Republic and Brazil at Kingsbridge High School work hard on their pieces in Writopia’s writing club.

Here's to an Award-Winning 2017!

We are pleased to announce our student, instructor, and organizational accomplishments of the past year. Please let us know if you would like us to add additional news in an upcoming newsletter.
Student Awards &

Congratulations to all of our writers for their accomplishments! Thank you to Abby Coleman, Writopia's Submissions Coordinator, for researching opportunities for these writers and guiding them through the submissions process.

Below are just some of our students' accomplishments this past year. Please email if a piece you wrote at Writopia has been published in 2017! We will include it in our fall newsletter.

Elena Debre (age 17) was named a 2017 National YoungArts Foundation merit winner for her short story "Night Lies"
Stephanie Okun (age 16) had her essay "My Unsolicited Theories of Abuse" published in Teen Ink
Abraham Weitzman (age 13) had his essay "Simply Speaking" published in Kid Spirit
Abraham Weitzman (age 13) had his poem "Robinson Meets Vika" published in Teen Ink
Abraham Weitzman (age 13) had his short story "Cocoa" published in Teen Ink
Anastatia Bratescu (age 19) had her book of poems "Shattered Residue published" by hPublish
Charlie Manzano age 11) had her short story "The Land of Ulaqebu" published in
H.O.W. Jr.
Alexandra Berman (age 12) had her short story "Prayers of a Lost Boy" published in H.O.W. Jr.
GiGi Chen (age 11) had her short story "Grandmother's Woes and War" published in Kids4Kids Most Promising Writer
Yainie Gallego (age 14) had her poem published in Teen Ink
Kaia Wootton (age 10) had her poem "Anger" published in Smokelong Quarterly and in
Alphabet Soup
Stina Trollbäck (age 14) had her poem "Elasticity" published in Teen Ink
Jeeya Ballaney (age 7) had her short story "Mr. MacaroonVoh" published in
H.O.W. Jr.
Isabelle Reinecke (age 10) had her essay published in
Writopia Publications
Writopia's Litmags
Writopia added a third publication this year! Our 10th Anniversary Anthology is stunning thanks to all of our Writopia contributors and staff members Abby Coleman, Sarah Park, and Lyndsay Hall. We also published our third issue of SURGE: The Zone's Teen Art & Literary Magazine, in partnership with Mount Sinai Hospital.

To request copies
for your home or school library, please email To read student work now, check out the latest issue of our litmags!
Our Staff

Writopia's staff

The past year included big leaps forward for Writopia. We began workshops in Chicago and San Francisco, our outreach into underserved communities widened, and we continued to refine our tools for professional development, both internal and external. None of this would be possible without our nationwide team of full-time staff:

Travon Anderson, Elsa Bermudez, Hannah Boysko, Peter Cohen, Alexandra Cohl, Abby Coleman, Jocquelyn Downs, Jan Edwards Hemming, Michaela Florio, Tom Flynn, Lyndsay Hall, Mason Henderson, Mikala Jamison, Scott Krier, Milana Meytes, Sarah Park, Rob Roy, Léna Roy, Yael Schick, Ethan Shafran Moltz, Sarah Shatan-Pardo, Danielle Sheeler, Madeline Taylor, Bianca Turetsky, Rebecca Wallace-Segall, Jeremy Wallace-Segall, and Janelle Williams
Janelle Williams

Janelle WilliamsWe welcomed instructor extraordinaire Janelle Williams to our full-time staff this year. Janelle started teaching with us a year ago and stood out immediately as a gifted, deeply caring instructor. She completed her MFA in January from Manhattanville College, and has since been running workshops on-site at our labs and throughout the city for underserved youth as part of our Joy and Literacy in After School funded by The Pinkerton Foundation.
Bianca Turetsky
Bianca TuretskyWe are so proud to announce the emergence of our Park Slope lab this year, and the highly skilled manager of that lab: author Bianca Turetsky! Bianca starting teaching with us a year ago and joined us full-time in the spring as the Brooklyn Regional Coordinator. We are so grateful to have her on board. Check out her book.

Ethan Shafran Moltz
Ethan Shafran MoltzWe are proud of Writopia media associate Ethan Shafran Moltz! This year, Ethan has especially moved us by his vision and dedication to the production of our stunning 2017 Benefit Video that he co-produced with Writopia's Scott Krier and Chelsea Grasso. Ethan also co-produced a Writopia film festival for preschoolers this year with program director Yael Schick and he produced the 2017 Writopia Film Festival for our young and teen filmmakers. Ethan's students have been featured as part of the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016 and 2017. Ethan has inspired us for four years with his energy and know-how, and especially with his passionate investment in the well-being of all of his students. Look out for his upcoming Writopia films: How to Support Your Writer and Welcome to Writopia!
Instructor Awards & Publications

Michael Alessi's work was published or is forthcoming in Passages North, The Minnesota Review, The Pinch, and Paper Darts, and he staged readings at Uncharted Books in Chicago and a release event for The Pinch in Memphis
Chad Anderson's short story, "Maidencane", was awarded the Nimrod International Journal's Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction (1st Place)
Tricia Aurand's play, NICAEA, was produced as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival
Cathleen Bell's collaborative novel, Weregirl, was published by Chooseco

Hannah Boysko's poetry and visuals were published in Femme Mâché
Jessica Cluess' novel, A Shadow Bright and Burning, was published by Random House
Alexandra Cohl's short piece, "From Where She Watches", was published in Luna Luna
Jessica Dall's novel, Book 2 of the Order and Chaos Series: Graven Idols, was published by Red Adept Publishing

Jocquelyn Downs and Danielle Sheeler had a staged reading of their one-act play, Pay, at Theater Lab
Amy Dupcak's collection of short stories, Dust, was published by Lucid River Press, and she signed with Janklow & Nesbit for her debut novel
Janet Edwards Hemming's essay, "Proof," was published in the Los Angeles Review of Books Blog, and she has poems forthcoming in Fail Better and Scalawag
Lyndsay Hall's essay, "A Saline Solution," was published in Little Fiction | Big Truths, and her essay, "Finding Adam," was published in b(OINK)
Corey Haydu's fourth YA novel, The Careful Undressing of Love, was published by Penguin, and her second middle grade novel, The Someday Suitcase, comes out from HarperCollins on June 27th
Gregory Luce's poetry was published in Deaf Poets Society and Pre-Existing Poems, his poetry won the Arlington Moving Words competition for display on ART buses, and he was a featured poet for the DC Poet Project
Sagit Maier-Schwartz's short piece, "Ingenue", was published in Hollywood Dementia
Kathleen McCleary wrote a series of cover stories for Parade magazine, and contributed non-fiction work to
Catya McMullen's play, AGNES, was produced by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, her musical L.U.B. had an extended run at the People's Improv Theater, and several of her short works were produced at Ensemble Studio Theater
Sheila McMullin's book of poetry, daughterrarium, was published as the winner of the 2016 CSU Poetry Center First Book Award
Anna Potter's essay, "The Body in Motion," was published in Phoebe and received a Pushcart Prize nomination
Dania Ramos' play was performed by Speranza Theatre Company's production of Women Rising: Stories of Hope
Léna Roy co-authored Becoming Madeleine L'Engle - a Biography, due out in February, 2018 by by FSG
Alexa Salvato's poem "eulogy for my stomach at its flattest" was published in States of Mind

Courtney Sheinmel had five books published for emerging and young readers, including Agnes & Clarabelle, The Kindness Club: Chloe on the Bright Side, and the 10th book in her Stella Batts series: Broken Birthday
Anisha Sridhar won the Tribeca Film Institute's Prototype Fund Award for her interactive webseries, Rearview Mirror, to begin production this fall
Gina Stevensen placed in the 2017 international Jewish Playwriting Contest for her play Book of Esther

Brigit Young's essay, "The Empty Vessel: A Dissection of the Worth of Madness and Its Cure in Shirley Jackson's The Bird's Nest," was published in Modern Language Studies, and her middle grade novel, A Thousand Words, will be published by Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan in 2018
Rebecca Wallace-Segall, Yael Schick, and Danielle Sheeler had a staged reading of their play, Sadie Fishbein the Musical, at Theater Lab

For their support of the Scholastic Writing Awards

Just For Fun

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Our Mission

Writopia Lab fosters joy, literacy, and critical thinking in children and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

We have never turned away a student whose family was unable to pay for workshops. Fifty percent of our students attend on either partial or full scholarships.

Learn more!

Enroll Now!

Weekly Trimester-Long Workshops

Check out the Weekly Trimester-Long Schedule.

Holiday & School Break Workshops

Check out the Half-Day and Full-Day schedules.

Summer Workshops and Camps

Check out the Summer Schedule.

Join the Team!

If you love writing and want to share that love with young writers, apply today to join Writopia Lab! Click here to learn more!