Through the AWA Training Program, AWA trains writers to uphold the AWA method and become workshop leaders. These workshop leaders learn to work everyone, from novice writers led to believe they have no voice to experienced writers seeking to hone their craft.
In response to racialized hatred, oppression, and inequity, the AWA Board committed to exploring how we serve underrepresented writers. We work to include those voices that dominant institutions have ignored, neglected or excluded. In order to fulfill this goal, are increasing access to training. In this way, we nurture economic and racial diversity in the AWA community. From the money raised by Write Around the World last year, we offered 12 full scholarships in 2021:
- Eight of these were provided for through The Kate Hymes Scholarship. We reserve two spots in every training for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) trainees who need financial assistance.
- Four were funded by The Lane Goddard Scholarship. These funds go to others who need aid to attend the facilitator trainings and who have transformative aspirations for themselves or their intended workshop populations.
So far in 2022 we have already granted 9 scholarships for these trainings, again divided between The Kate Hymes Scholarship for racialized trainees, and The Lane Goddard Scholarship for facilitators who have specific underserved populations that they want to assist through writing workshops.
In addition, the literary journal of Amherst Writers & Artists, Peregrine, is published an issue celebrating the work of Black poets. This anthology, Black Poets Speak to America, launched in early Autumn 2021. In 2023 the Peregrine issue will be devoted to stories from indigenous writers.
If you want to contribute to our social justice initiatives, you can go to our donation page.
Other social justice initiatives AWA is working on right now
- Creating a funded program of workshops offered to military veterans and their families
- Connecting AWA leaders who work with specific populations in small virtual chapters for support and the pooling of resources
Other social justice initiatives previously nurtured by AWA
Many AWA-trained leaders have founded incredible organizations that use the AWA method in their work:
Other leaders focus their AWA work on writing with specific populations:
- Writing Ourselves Whole supports survivors of sexual violence,
- Sutter Writers invites doctors, patients, and hospital staff to write together, and
- WOC Writers offers community to women writers of color in NYC,
among many, many more.
AWA was founded by Pat Schneider and our method is outlined in her book, Writing Alone and With Others (2003, Oxford University Press). She established and grew the methodology while working with women in a housing project in Chicopee, MA. This work rises from that legacy of working with the marginalized and the oppressed, especially those with interrupted educations. It incorporates principles from the Writing Process Movement.
You can find the AWA method in elementary, high school, and college classrooms across the country. You an also find us in many community and social service settings.
We are a 501(c)3 non-profit and sustain ourselves with donations from compassionate and generous writers and readers like you.
TESTIMONIALS FOR THE METHOD IN SOCIAL SERVICE SETTINGS
The AWA method has been extremely useful in my work with First Nation adults and inter-generational survivors who suffer from the legacy of Indian Residential School trauma… I used the method specifically when working with those survivors who chose to make an application for compensation for their time in Residential School…
This type of sustained, complex trauma severely impacts all areas of a survivor’s life. Some of the issues I used the AWA method to address included: addiction, depression, self esteem and disempowerment, loss of language and culture, trust issues, lateral violence, parenting issues, employability and poverty, among others. The AWA training refined my knowledge of arts based healing modalities and, in particular, the use of writing and storytelling methodology. It enhanced my confidence and my ability to use therapeutic writing with traumatized populations. The training also honed my ability to use writing and storytelling in a strategic and safe way with trauma survivors.Jill Goodacre
What, in the most profound sense, are we doing, using the Amherst Writers & Artists method in Mary’s Place and in other, similar programs in jails, prisons, shelters, hospitals, centers for youth at risk and many other venues across America and in Canada, Ireland, India, Malawi and other countries? It is true that we are changing lives. My own life was changed by a seventh grade teacher, by a college-age camp counselor, and by the pastor of a small, dying church. Each one of them dared to walk up the steps of a tenement through the smell of urine and roach poison, find me and believe in me until I could believe in myself. That is the “most profound” work being done in Mary’s Place. Face-to-face, person-to-person, spirit-to-spirit, sharing words, stories — the “teacher/leader” writing with the participants.Pat Schneider, introduction to ORIGINAL VOICES: Homeless and Formerly Homeless Women’s Writings