- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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 Classroom 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.
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 Accounting and Operations Specialist
- Andriy Repik, our Ssummer I.T. and Operations Specialist
- Rachel Zubrin, our DC Program Coordinator
- Will Bond, our Media Coordinator
- 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 classes.
- 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!
- 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 classrooms 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: 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’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.