The Mighty Writers website features the Maya Angelou quote: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Being a great writer opens a lot of doors, no matter what field you’re in, and being able to express yourself through the written word makes life a whole lot more fulfilling.
Mighty Writers is on a mission to help kids not only become better writers but better thinkers, too.
Founded in 2009 by journalist and editor, Tim Whitaker, the organization now has five locations in Philadelphia: MW El Futuro (1025 S. 9th St.), MW North (2123 N. Gratz St.), MW South (1501 Christian St.), MW West (3861 Lancaster Ave.) and MW Rivera 3201 N. 5th St. Programs are free and 2,500 kids are mentored every year by over 400 passionate volunteers.
“I’d held a number of journalism jobs, the most recent 14 years as editor of Philadelphia Weekly,” Whitaker says. “I needed a change and wanted to help address the youth literacy crisis. I knew that one solution was to get kids to think clearly and write with clarity.”
According to Whitaker, the high school dropout rate in Philadelphia “hovers around 40 percent.”
“Writing has power,” he says. “Teaching kids how to think clearly and express themselves with clarity keeps their eyes on the prize.”
Whitaker describes the learning spaces at Mighty Writers as fun, accessible environments where kids are able to express themselves more freely.
“Our spaces are more clubhouse than classroom, filled with superhero art, from Spiderman to Maya Angelou,” he says. “We’re the anti-school school.”
Kids ages seven to 17 benefit from the many Mighty Writers programs available that include everything from workshops on poetry, cursive writing, writing in a professional setting and even a book club. Program offerings vary depending on the location and volunteers are always needed.
“Our volunteers tutor, mentor, run workshops and more. Some people volunteer daily, others weekly or monthly,” Whitaker says. “There are any number of ways to volunteer; we can suit most anybody’s schedule.”
Seeing kids transform through becoming better writers makes it all worth it for Whitaker.
“The most inspiring part of Mighty Writers for me is watching kids go from being edgy and disinterested to embracing the concept of writing and expressing themselves,” he says. “When that happens self-esteem soars and success follows. We see the same transformation over and over again.”
If you’d like to get involved with Mighty Writers, visit: mightywriters.org.