On Aug. 21, Young Writers Project, Inc., will turn 5. Nothing short of amazing, I say.
This site began as a small handful of energetic folks who created a civil, supportive community. It has grown to what we have today -- thousands of VT and NH kids, a total of 75,000+ posts and 125,000+ comments (we reset the count at one point) and countless exchanges as you young writers give each other support, suggestions and ideas every day.
Our Newspaper Series has grown from one (the founding partner, The Burlington Free Press) to this fall's lineup of 11 newspapers, one radio station (VPR) and a new partnership with Vermont Public Television. Over 4,000 of you have been published in external media.
We've had workshops, author sessions, slams, pizza gatherings, a skating excursion, performances, school residencies, celebrations and all sorts of special projects. All great fun. And you've consumed a monstrous number of M&Ms.
In addition, we've developed a comprehensive service for schools, our YWP Schools Project, -- leading-edge digital classrooms, training and ongoing mentoring and best practices. We are going to be working with upwards of 40 schools this year -- including one in Shanghai, China -- hundreds of teachers and thousands of students.
We could not have done all this without some extraordinary support from a host of individuals, businesses and foundations. Special thanks to the Vermont Business Roundtable who were the ones who funded the first two years of YWP and to the A.D. Henderson Foundation, Bay & Paul Foundations, FairPoint Communications, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Physician's Computer Company for their generosity and faith. Many others have contributed money, time and expertise. Thanks to them.
As we embark on our 6th year, we wanted to tell you of some plans, changes and hopes. First the plans:
- YWP is actually hiring some staff to develop and take ownership of various parts of what we do. We'll introduce them separately in the weeks ahead.
- YWP is undertaking major improvements in its Schools Project including new site features and the hiring of three former teachers to provide support to teachers jumping into the digital age.
- We plan to shift the focus of this site to provide more focused mentoring, more use of multimedia and more sitewide projects, contests and general merriment.
- We are going to be reaching out to connect you to students around the world and will be creating a beta site for this school-based experiment.
- We are starting a beta site for college students.
- We will be expanding our mentor program to include adults knowledgeable in the various genres.
We will unfold the changes as we go and will involve any and all of you in the process. We will have regular announcements and requests for help. But there is one change we are going to institute right away: We are giving Messages a bit of a rest. We are disabling the private messaging feature as we wind down the summer and help reorient the focus back to creating blogs, podcasts, digital stories, poetry, books, etc. If you are using the message feature as part of your notifications system, you'll have to reset your settings to be notified by email.
One of our first steps in the coming weeks will be to make some site improvements and some maintenance updates. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience. And we will be setting up a space for you to offer ideas for improvement. For the moment, please share your ideas in the comment section below.
In any event, thanks so much for all your energy, participation and creativity. This is going to be an exciting year.