Writing Project Wins $20,000 Grant from National Writing Project
The Connecticut Writing Project-Fairfield (CWP), which is based at the University, will lead exciting digital learning projects across six city and suburban schools and host a spring youth conference, thanks to a highly competitive LRNG Innovation Challenge Grant from the National Writing Project. CWP was one of just 14 programs nationwide to win the $20,000 grant, which is part of a new program sponsored in partnership with the MacArthur Foundation and John Legend’s Show Me Campaign.
The schools involved are: Staples High School (Westport), Joel Barlow High School (Redding/Easton), Central and Bassick high schools (Bridgeport), Darien High School (Darien), and the Center for Global Studies at Brien McMahon High School (Norwalk).
LRNG is an initiative that invests in forward-thinking schools, programs and teachers to design projects that take advantage of new technology to support students’ creativity.
“The LRNG partners were impressed by the Connecticut Writing Project at Fairfield University because of their teacher-led commitment to ensuring that young people become the problem solvers of the future,” said NWP Executive Director Elyse Eidman-Aadahl. “We are pleased to support their innovation and willingness to share their work with schools across the country.”
Dr. Bryan Ripley Crandall, director of CWP-Fairfield, (standing, right) stated the grant funds collaborative work that was begun in 2014 when teachers met during a summer writing institute. “The teachers wrote opinion pieces about education for the CT Mirror (a state news outlet) and thought similar collaboration would benefit their students,” said Dr. Crandall. “They desired a way to bring diverse populations together. The LRNG grant seemed a logical fit and we applied. We were thrilled to be selected.”
The LRNG Innovation award will support students to write for real-world audiences through podcasting, Ted Talks, digital storytelling, ethnography, and blogging. Students at each school will read Matt de la Peña’s young adult novel We Were Here and receive professional advice from entrepreneur and performance personality Robert Galinsky.
The project was inspired by Harvard University’s student-driven campaign that brought attention to the often alienated and marginalized perspectives of students and by the South African philosophy of Ubuntu, which translates, “I can be me because of who we are together.” CWP-Fairfield will assist classrooms to use 21st-century tools to create Digital Ubuntu for democratic participation. The work will extend throughout 2015 and this spring more than 100 students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives will showcase their projects at Fairfield University.
“The teachers in this project believe in the power of writing in Connecticut schools,” Dr. Crandall said. “They are investing in young people to write their worlds.”
Funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Show Me Campaign and individual donors, the LRNG grantees will develop, pilot and share promising teacher-powered strategies and solutions to strengthen connected and deeper learning for the widest range of young people.
For more information on CWP, visit www.cwpfairfield.org.