Tuesday, July 7, 2015


Here's to an Award-Winning Year!

We are pleased to announce our student, instructor, and organizational accomplishments of the past year.

YoungArts Scholar2015 Scholastic AwardsCollege Essay Successes
Student Awards & Publications Parent Survey Our Instructors
Write to Recognition New Outreach Partners Fundraising
Fellowships Filmmaking Worldwide Plays Festival

YoungArts Scholar

See this clip of Kai Williams at the 2015 YoungArts reading!

Congratulations to Kai Williams (age 17), who was recognized as a 2015 National YoungArts Finalist in Writing for Short Story, and is the second Writopian to be named a YoungArts Scholar. In January, Kai joined 170 of the nation's top young literary, performing, visual, and design artists for a week of showcases and readings in Miami.  

Student Awards & Publications


Congratulations to our writers for these accomplishments. Thank you to Abby Coleman, Writopia Lab's Submissions Coordinator, for researching opportunities for these writers and guiding them through submissions.

Amrit Aggarwal (age 13) was a contest nominee for the Yes Magazine Student Essay Contest Spring 2015.
Estelle Anderson (age 10) was published in Amazing Kids! Magazine for her piece “Please Contact Logan Simonds."
Sierra Blanco (age 12) received a Finalist award from the Young Playwrights Inc. 2015 Write a Play! Competition for One Audience in Search of an Ending.
Sierra Blanco (age 12) received a Winner award from the Young Playwrights Inc. 2015 Write a Play! Competition for Slumber.
Rachel Calnek-Sugin (age 18) received the first place poetry prize in the Bennington Young Writers Award.
Rachel Calnek-Sugin (age 18) received Best of Borough in Poetry from The Penguin Random House Creative Writing Competition for NYC High School Juniors and Seniors for “We Got Four Inches of Rain…”
Eliana Cohen-Orth (age 15) received Honorable Mention from the Young Playwrights Inc. 2015 Write a Play! Competition for Public Transportation.
Amanda Cronin (age 15) had her poem “Farm Stand” published in Rye Magazine October 2014.
Amanda Cronin (age 15) won first place recognitions for fiction and nonfiction in the 2015 Chappaqua Young Writers Contest.
Willa DuBois (age 13) had her piece “Me and Me” published in the Spring 2015 KidSpirit.
Eliana Gayle-Schneider (age 15) received a Finalist award from the Young Playwrights Inc. 2015 Write a Play! Competition for A Prayer for Elizabeth.
Grace Goldstein (age 13) received an Honorable Mention from the Young Playwrights Inc. 2015 Write a Play! Competition for Types of Girls.
Cali Greenbaum (age 14) was published for two pieces in Teen Ink -- Editor's Choice, "Brown" and "Native."
Hayley Gruenspan (age 16) won the Smith College Book Award.
Kaelyn Ha (age 11) won second place in the 2014 Creative Minds Poetry Contest 2nd Place--Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth for her piece “When the Rain Falls.”
Fatim Haidara (age 13) was published as a front page feature in December 2014 issue of Teen Ink for her piece “Women Sexism: Is It Fair?
Yanqing Huang (age 13) had his poem “Okay” published on the MET blog Spring 2015.
Annelie Hyatt (age 12) had her essay featured in Quiet Diaries, as part of Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution.
Raya Kenney (age 13) was a winner in the 2015 Letters About Literature contest.
Erica Lin (age 18) received Best of Borough in Poetry from The Penguin Random House Creative Writing Competition for NYC High School Juniors and Seniors for "Inheritance.”
Leo Lion (age 15) received Honorable Mention from the Young Playwrights Inc. 2015 Write a Play! Competition for Ties.
Charlotte Lipman (age 9) won Honorable Mention in the Sarah Mook Poetry Contest for her poem “The Sound of the Sea.”
Kaley Mamo (age 15) had her essay featured in Quiet Diaries, as part of Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution.
Anna Miller (age 18) received Honorable Mention in Fiction & Drama from The Penguin Random House Creative Writing Competition for NYC High School Juniors and Seniors for “The Bus.”
Pranjal Modi (age 8) was recognized in StoryWorks Magazine: Create a Character Contest April/May 2015.
Stephanie Okun (age 15) received a Finalist award from the Young Playwrights Inc. 2015 Write a Play! Competition for Fishing.
Stephanie Okun (age 15) was a finalist in the "It's All Write!" Teen Short Story Contest for her story “Ultimate Takeaway” and was a guest playwright at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.
Maya Osman-Krinsky (age 15) was accepted into the 2015 Iowa Young Writers’ Studio.
Christina Poulin (age 10) was recognized in the Stone Soup Honor Roll September/October 2014
Hannah Reale (age 16) received Honorable Mention from the Young Playwrights Inc. 2015 Write a Play! Competition for Partying With the Reaper.
Anna Thompson (age 13) won second place in the Mindhut Short Fiction Contest for “The Past is Now."
Penelope Sheer (age 9) had three pieces published in the Spring 2015 Amazing Kids! Magazine: “Sounds of the Rainbow,” “Earth's Beginning,” and “Rapunzel.”
Jenna Weingarten (age 17) was published in Amazing Kids! Magazine for “Sonnet?,” “The Gene,” and “The Gray Seed,” and in Verbaleyze Young Writers Anthology for “The Golden Key.”
Abraham Weitzman (age 11) had his piece “Train to Snowy” published in HOW Jr. December 2014.
Kai Williams (age 17) was published in the Verbaleyze Young Writers Anthology.
?Gertie-Pearl Zwick-Schachter (age 11) had her poem “Pure Love” published in KidSpirit.

Our Instructors


Rachel Barclay authored two novels and a nonfiction business book this past year, and her screenplay Write on the Edge optioned by Saetre Film Group.
Melissa Baumgart is starting an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and received a merit scholarship.
Kira Peikoff Beilis had her article "Therapy Borne on Electric Currents" published in the New York Times this May.
Emily Beyda will be attending Texas State's MFA program this fall. She also started writing for Serious Eats.
Abby Coleman had her flash fiction piece "Nothing In This Car” published in Bear Review, and her poem “Instead Of” published in pacificREVIEW.
Sarah Darer Littman had her book Backlash published by Scholastic, and appeared with her son in Dave Isay's amazing TED Talk: Everyone Around You Has a Story the World Needs to Hear.
Jan Edwards had a poem published in The Mackinac, and has three poems forthcoming in Similar:Peaks::.
Jennie Berman Eng has two plays premiering this year, Whenever You’re Near Me I Feel Sick in the Fall 2015: DC Women's Voices Festival; and Never Let Me Go in the May 2015 official selection of Speranza Theatre Company Spring Festival of Plays.
Amy Gijsbers Van Wijk began her MFA in Dramatic Writing at Carnegie Mellon University. Her play Broken Eggs was performed at Bad Theater Festival in New York this past October.
Molly Haas-Hooven’s play The House Itself Does Not Burn was a semifinalist for the 2015 Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference. Her play Die Kleinen received its New York premiere in March. In April, Molly performed and co-created a dance-play, entitled Run by Men: The Girls Hungry, as part of the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts at Brandeis University.
Alex Henderson had his short story “Envelope” published in #!$@ Fiction.
Veera Hiranandani has a fourth book in her Phoebe G. Green series, Cooking Club Chaos, coming out June 16th.
Ian McDonald won the Theatre Masters' Visionary Playwright Award.
Michelle Meyers was selected as a 2015 PEN Center Emerging Voices Fellow in Fiction, picked for the Wigleaf Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions of 2014, and was chosen for Brimmer St. Theatre Company's Blueprint Series. She was a semi-finalist for the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's 2015 National Playwrights Conference, and a semi-finalist for the Landing Theatre Company's 2015 New American Voices Series. She published work in the L.A. Times and Grey Sparrow Journal, and has work forthcoming in Juked. Michelle will be attending The University of Alabama's MFA program this fall.
Donna Miele had two pieces published in the Atticus Review, and joined the editorial board of River River as a prose editor.
Michelle Schusterman is signed to have two books published with Random House Children’s Books.
Courtney Sheinmel published Stella Batts, None of Your Beeswax in 2014. She has two books coming out in 2015, her first YA, EDGEWATER, and the eighth book in her Stella Batts series, Superstar. Her middle grade series The Kindness Club will be published in 2016.
Rachel Snyder had her poem "Incarnate" published in decomP magazine in December 2014 and two poems, "Timeline" and "Delineation," published in the Spring '15 issue of Slice magazine.
Jessica Spotswood published her third book in the Cahill Witch Chronicles, Sisters' Fate.
Taylor Sykes had two poems published in Quail Bell Magazine and her short story published in Alyss.
Cory Tamler had translations of Stefanie Sargnagel's poetry for The Animated Reader, ed. Brian Droitcour, published, and helped develop The Way They Live, produced at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in May 2015.
Brigit Young had her poetry published in The Common, Otis Nebula, Gabby Journal, and Word Riot. Her short story “¿Dónde Está La Paloma?” was published in Folio Lit Journal, and her YA manuscript was an honorable mention in the Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest.

For their support of the Scholastic Writing Awards' national medalists in 2015, Abby Coleman, Sarah Darer Littman, Dan Kitrosser, Genna Kohlhardt, Léna Roy, Danielle Sheeler, Rachel Snyder, and Rebecca Wallace-Segall were recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers as outstanding instructors.

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards' H2H and DC Writing Regions are administered by Writopia staff in those two regions. They delivered a fuller Awards experience for many teens beyond Writopia Lab, organized a demanding adjudication process, and produced stellar ceremonies this past March.


Writopia Lab's filmmaking program

In its first year, Writopia’s Filmmaking program produced a winner at the 2015 TriBeCa Film Festival. We also launched our first film festival as part of the 2015 Worldwide Plays Festival, and produced our first festival for preschool filmmakers at Montclare Children’s School.

Scholastic Awards

See clips from the 2015 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards National Ceremony

Congratulations to all of Writopia Lab’s writers from across the country who submitted work to the 2015 Scholastic Writing Awards. Together, they received 467 regional awards.

To top it all off, Chelsea Clinton and Whoopi Goldberg celebrated all of the national medalists at Carnegie Hall last week with humor, insight, and tremendous praise. Congratulations to the following Writopians who received National Medal recognition for their writing in 2015:
Claire Annino (Gold for Personal Essay/Memoir)
Tamsyn Brann (Silver for Journalism)
Jack Braun (Silver for Poetry)
Rachel Calnek-Sugin (Gold for Poetry, Gold for Dramatic Script, Silver for Writing Portfolio, Silver for Poetry)
Lily Goldberg (Gold for Poetry)
Eden Gordon (Gold for Poetry, Silver for Short Story)
Cali Greenbaum (Silver for Personal Essay/Memoir)
Lauren Kingsley (Gold for Personal Essay/Memoir)
Riley Levine (Gold for Poetry)
Ali Levinson (Silver for Flash Fiction)
Kaley Mamo (Gold for Flash Fiction, Silver for SciFi/Fantasy)
Anna McNulty (Silver for Short Story)
Alec Montgomery (Silver for Dramatic Script)
Malina Nelson (Gold and Best in Grade for Short Story)
Chaya Sara Oppenheim (Gold for Flash Fiction)
Joe Polsky (Gold and American Voices Medal for Poetry, Gold for Poetry, Gold for Poetry)
Charlotte Rauner (Silver for Poetry, Silver for Poetry)
Claire Seymour (Gold and Best in Grade for Poetry, Gold for Poetry, Silver for Poetry, Silver for Flash Fiction)
Julia Smith (Gold for Poetry)
Johnathan Stimpson (American Voices Medal for his Critical Essay)
Emily Tian (Gold for Poetry)

The full list of National Medalists can be viewed online.

College Essay Successes

College essays

In 2015, our college essay writers again won admissions to top schools. Congratulations to our college essay writers listed here, and to our many others:

Paul Abbraciamento, James Madison
Malahni Banta, The New School
Rachel Calnek-Sugin, Harvard, Yale
Madeleine Casey, Columbia
Emily Chan, SUNY Albany, SUNY Binghampton
Maxine Charles, Bucknell, including a $10,000 Arts Merit Scholarship (the second Writopian to receive this)
Allie Dinaburg, Skidmore
Kyle Durr, Fordham, Albany
Griffin Feeney, Savannah Coll of Art & Design
Gabriele Giacomo, NYU Tisch, Emerson, Chapman
Coby Goldberg, Princeton
Margot Hanclich, William and Mary
Hugo Hentoff, Bowdoin
Erica Lin, Brown
Andrew Mamo, U Chicago
Jonathan Marty, NYU
Eliane Mitchell, Stanford, Brown, Washington St Louis
Jasmin Murray, SUNY Binghamton
Alex Neal-Drexel, Pitt, Maryland, Indiana, Penn St
Ivie Orobaton, William and Mary
Henry Pierce, Rochester, Johns Hopkins
Robby Purvis, Dartmouth, Columbia, Brown
Charlotte Rauner, Barnard
Julia Smith, Smith College
David Smith, Tulane, Kenyon, Boston U
Andrew Sobelsohn, Tufts
Robert Sobelsohn, Colgate
Paul Vaden, U of Washington, Seattle
Clea Woodbury, Bard
Michaela Palmer, UPenn

Write to Recognition

Write to Recognition

The Pinkerton Foundation announced last month that it will award a $100,000 grant for a second year in a row. Pinkerton will continue to support Writopia’s new programs, including: 1) Write to Recognition, serving gifted and prolific writers from lower literacy or low income backgrounds at our sites and at Homes for the Homeless family shelters; and 2) Write to Independence, providing volunteer literacy and academic support to adjudicated teens transitioning from treatment centers (including Aichhorn Treatment facilities) to independent living.

Over 36 of these 50 students have already been published, been produced Off-Broadway, performed at The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, read aloud at Barnes & Noble or Book Culture, or won 2015 Scholastic Awards!

Please contact your regional manager to find out how to support and fund Writopia’s outreach programs in your area.

New Outreach Partners

The Kennedy Center, through its subsidiary Very Special Arts (VSA), financially supported Writopia Lab's work with disabled students throughout the school year in all of our regions across the country, and contracted us to extend our work within schools in Prince George’s County in Maryland.
The Association to Benefit Children (ABC), as a result of supporter Marla Axelrod’s in-home fundraiser, invited Writopia to run workshops for its teens at its community center in East Harlem. We will be continuing this relationship into the fall.
For the summer of 2015, the New York Public Library expanded our contract into ten branches throughout The Bronx, Washington Heights, Harlem, the Lower East Side, and Staten Island. Two dozen donors have helped us purchase 24 laptops needed to support these workshops. (We still need 10 more!)
At the suggestion of the Pinkerton Foundation--and through their financial support of The Hartley House in Hell’s Kitchen--Writopia Lab will run a robust teen writing program at The Hartley House.
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Writopia workshops through Homes for the Homeless

For the second time, Andrea Stern has sponsored a six-week Writopia camp at Homes for the Homeless this summer. Read about it in this wonderful article.

Thank you to our Board Members, Candice Braun, Lanie McNulty, and Kim Hartman, and supporters like Jennifer Sylvor and Lauren Smith, and to you, our incredible community, for an impactful year of fundraising: We raised enough funds this year to offer financial aid packages to almost 50% of our summer sleepaway campers and writers, and we raised funds to provide 6 of our 10 NYPL workshops with laptops for all writers.

Thank you to Adam Gopnik, A.J. Jacobs, Gretchen Rubin, Taylor Mali, Wendy Corsi Staub, Gae Polisner, Lucy Frank, S. Chris Shirley, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Barbara Dee, Julie Strauss-Gabel, Jill Santopolo, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Eliot Schrefer, Nancy Silberkleit, and Patrick Ryan, who each spoke or performed at a Writopia fundraiser during the past year, helping us raise over $40,000 toward our outreach and scholarship programs.

Thank you, Heather Demetrios, Brooklyn-based author, who spearheaded a campaign that raised the funds to support scholarships for six teen writers from the Cristo Rey Brooklyn School.

Thank you to all who donated!

Worldwide Plays Festival

2015 Worldwide Plays Festival

Thank you, David Letterman and Worldwide Pants, Inc.! Thanks to the generosity of our funders, over the 2014-2015 school year, more than 80 Writopia playwrights were produced as part of our festival, including 48 Off-Broadway productions.
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Writopia's Fellowship writers

In 2015, thanks to additional funding provided by David Letterman's Worldwide Pants Inc., we were able to pilot a free merit-based fellowship program for teens. Writopia's Fiction Fellowship and Playwriting Residency each ran from March to May, allowing participating high school juniors and seniors to explore careers as authors and playwrights while further developing their craft.

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Parent Survey

Thank you parents, for your feedback!

After sending out a parent survey earlier this month to our school year families, we are deeply moved and elated to share our parents’ feedback.

At the start of their children’s first workshop: 10% described their children as “reluctant writers” and 69% described their children as “enthusiastic” writers.

At the end of the spring, not one parent described his or her child as a reluctant writer, and 92% described their children as “enthusiastic” writers.

We fell in love with your children this semester and we are so happy to know it is mutual. Over 99% reported that you hope that your children return to Writopia in the fall. We’ll be here! Have a wonderful summer.
Writopia Lab is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that fosters joy, literacy, and critical thinking in young people from all backgrounds through creative writing.
www.writopialab.org | Phone: 212-222-4088 | Register@WritopiaLab.org
Read more!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

 LogoPink (1)
Congratulations on an Award-Winning Year!

Scholastic Writing AwardsYoungArts ScholarPublications and AwardsCollege Essay SuccessesYoung PlaywrightsOur InstructorsFundraising • Worldwide Plays Festival Writopia AwardsNew Grants, Programs, and OutreachNew Initiatives• Summer Thank You! 


Nationals2014 Of the 25,000 submissions from across the country, our Writopia writers won top national medals for their senior portfolios. Congratulations...
  • For her portfolio, Clara Olshansky was the recepient of a Silver Medal with Distinction, and a $1,000 scholarship. 
  • Andres Vaamonde, Val Bodurtha, Michal Liebowitz, and Diana Mellow, all won Silver Medals for their portfolios.
  • Instructors: Rebecca Wallace-Segall, Yael Schick, and Lena Roy were recognized as outstanding instructors for their support of these portfolio medalists. 
Congratulations to all of Writopia's 2014 National Medalists, grades 7-12:  Kai Williams, Ali Levinson, Lily Goldberg, Laura Glesby, Lily Davis, Cali Greenbaum, Julia Smith, Callie Zola, Elizabeth Engel, Emily Birnbaum, and Alex Mountfield. (Nationally Recognized Writopia Instructors: Courtney Sheinmel, Amy Dupcak, Genna Kohlhardt, Alex Henderson, Rachel Snyder, Yael Schick, Rebecca Wallace-Segall.) And congratulations to the 215 Writopia writers who won recognition on the regional level, and to all the writers at Writopia who inspire and entertain us each day--we love you for it!
CollegeEssayLetter2 2In a recent survey of our alumni (to be published soon), 100% of our college essay students said that writing college essays at Writopia was "an authentic investigation into self-expression" and that the experience made me feel better about the college application process. And in 2014, our college essay students won admissions to top schools along with top scholarships again!
Congratulations to our college essay writers: Teddy Becker-Jacob and Tori Testa, Stanford; Rebecca Teich, Columbia; Lily Calcagnini, Harvard; Diana Mellow, winner of the Thomas Wolfe Scholarship at UNC Chapel Hill; Clara Olshansky, Yale; Ian Sherman, Northwestern; Olivia Stein, NYU, Tisch School of Dramatic Writing; Sasha Bronfman, Duke; and Jenan Jacobson, Carleton. Also, a special shoutout to additional graduating seniors: Andres Vaamonde, Cornell; Lennarsha Prescod, Hunter College; Michal Liebowitz, Stanford; Sarah Fisher, Georgetown and to so many more of you!
  • Rebecca Teich, Honorable Mention, Memoir
  • Diana Mellow, Artist Recongnition, Fiction and Drama
  • Sabrina Castillo, Honorable Mention, Fiction and Drama 


Congratulations to the Writopian winners of the 2014 Write a Play! Competition: 
  • Sierra BlancoThe Drill, Elementary School Winner
  • Leo LionThe Internet Island Project, Middle School Finalist
  • Hannah RealeFight Dragons with Hot Chocolate, High School Winner
  • Charlotte RaunerBasketball, High School Finalist


Thank you, David Letterman and Worldwide Pants, Inc.! Thanks to our funders, over the 2013-2014 school year, more than 80 Writopia playwrights were produced as part of our festival, inluding 48 Off-Broadway productions. Watch out, this video will make you cry. It was an amazing year. (See our list of competition winners.)


Thank you to our 2014 Benefit Committee and to you, our incredible community for an impactful year of fundraising: 
  • Thank you to Adam Gopnik, A.J. Jacobs, Gretchen Rubin, Ophira Eisenberg, Jonathan Gottschall, and Taylor Mali who each spoke or performed at a Writopia fundraiser throughout the year helping us raise over $65,000 toward our outreach and scholarship programs! Thank you Candice Braun, Kim Hartman, and  Lanie McNulty for hosting a series of intimate fundraisers at their homes!
  • Thank you, Heather Demetrios, Brooklyn-based author, who spearheaded a campaign that raised the funds to support scholarships for six teen writers from the Cristo Rey Brooklyn School. Thank you to all who donated!
  • MayaV's Letter
    Thank you to the hundreds of families who joined us in our fundraising efforts. Many of our young writers contributed as well... thank you Maya Vydareny!
  • Thank you, Joel and Lauren Rutkowski, the directors and owners of Indian Head Camp, who have generously sponsored ten of our young writers for a full sleepaway camp experience. We are thrilled to be bringing Writopia's 2014 Sleepaway Camp to their beautiful site in Honesdale Pennsylvania. We are looking forward to this exciting new partnership! 


At Writopia's Annual Benefit, we honored Julie-Jamora-Photography_049_Writopia_HR_136_DSC_1207 2several of our young writers for their incredible writing and for their work with the Writopia community.  
Susan Cain Award for Humility, Commitment, and Outstanding Work
Teddy Becker-Jacob
Ian Sherman
Rebecca Teich
Community and Mentorship Award
Charlotte Rauner
Jane Herz
Fard Shabazz
Changing Our World with Personal, Powerful Work Award
Annelie Hyatt
Simone Rubin-Underdown
Changing Our World with Exemplary Dramatic Scripts Award
Sarah Fisher
Amelia Sylvor Greenberg
Changing Our World with Poetry Award
Rachel Calnek-Sugin
Eleanor Mammen
Jack Braun
The Social Impact through Fiction Award
Waseem Khundkar
The Writopia Citizenship Award
Clea Woodbury
The Award for Outstanding Poetry
Clara Olshansky
The Emerging Playwright Award
Jaela Ali

Congratulations to Writopia Los Angeles' Isabel DeBre, the first Writopian ever to be named a YoungArts Scholar! In January, Isabel joined 170 of the nation's top young literary, performing, visual, and design artists for a week of showcases and readings in Miami. 
Congratulations to our writers on these accomplishments! Thank youm Abby Coleman, Writopia's Submissions Coordinator, for reasearching opportunities for young writers and guiding our young writers through the submissions process. 
  • Kai Williams' (age 16) short story, "Nat and Sophia," will be featured in the Scholastic Awards' 2014 Best Teen Writing anthology. 
  • Annalee Tai's (age 16) poem, "Detox," was selected for publication in The Apprentice Writer and it is due out in August 2014.
  • Rachel Calnek-Sugin (age 17) won the second place Knopf Poetry Prize at the CCNY Poetry Festival for her poem "My Mother Makes an Apple Cake.
  • Raya Kenney (age 12) was a finalist in the 31st Larry Neal Writers Award Competition for her piece Missing Smile.
  • Mrinalini Wadhwa (age 12) was a winner of the Creative Communication Poetry Contest for her poem "Time."
  • Michal Liebowitz (age 17) won the grand prize in the Fresh Ink for Teens Writing Contest for her piece This Strange in Between: We are not broken, we are something new and different and beautifulMichal Liebowitz was also the winner of the Columbia College Chicago Young Authors Competition. 
  • Juliana Yu (age 11) was the elementary school winner in NASA’s Spring 2014 Cassini Scientist for a Day Essay Contest. Juliana Yu was also the 5th and 6th Grade Prose Winner in the New York Society Young Writers Award for her story Salmini's Story
  • Sophie Nadel (age 13) was the winner of the 34th Annual Friends of the Chappaqua Library Young Writers Contest for her story Mittens
  • Christina Poulin was a winner of The Washington Posts' Kid's Post Competition for her poem "Internal Zoo."
  • Jessica Rosenblatt's (age 12) piece, "The Search for Excitement," was published in Creative Kids Magazine
  • Clea Woodbury (age 17) won Honorable Mention in the Leonard Milberg '53 Secondary School Poetry Contest for her poem "Confirmation."
  • Lea Pichardo (age 11) was the recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Student Author Award (Celebrate New Jersey) for her piece, "Mighty Mike is Back!" Also, Lea Pichardo's story, "The Hero," was published in The Oakland Journal
  • Natalie Panitkin's (age 9) story Storm of the Seas was published on kidpub.com.
  • Charlotte Rauner (age 17) was the National Winner/Best of Issue Nominee for the American High School Poets “Just Poetry” at The National Poetry Quarterly.
  • Yuna Shprecher (age 11) won the Award of Excellence for her story The Voice of North in the National PTA Reflections Art Program.
  • Matthew Li (age 8) won 1st Place in the WETA KIDS Writers Contest.


We are delighted to announce that the Pinkerton Foundation has granted Writopia Lab $100,000 for our new program called "Write to Recognition." 
Write to Recognition will allow for our PoetryFestivalscholarship writers from low literacy backgrounds in need of extra writing support to benefit from extra private sessions throughout the year. At the end of each semester, Abby Coleman will help each and every one of these writers to submit to publications and competitons. All Writopia writers have the Write to Recognition!
In addition to our sliding scale fees, 18% of writers who participated in Writopia workshops attended using full scholarships. 
Support from our wonderful community allows all of these programs to develop. If you would like to get involved, please contact us! 


  • Sarah Bernstein has an upcoming production of The Narrow Gate, at the Source Festival in DC this month.
  • Abby Coleman, Molly Haas-Hooven, Alex Henderson, Khadijah Johnson, and Dan Kitrosser all completed their MFAs this semester! 
  • Jessica Dall's new novel The Copper Witch was released in March.
  • Michelle Meyers' play, The Last Temptation of Paula Deen, will be featured in the Hollywood Fringe Festival this June.
  • Kara Ayn Napolitano's play, Leah in Vegas, will be featured in the 2014 NYC Fringe Festival. 
  • Kira Piekoff's second novel No Time to Die will be relased on September 2nd.
  • Adrienne Scherger's short story is going to be featured in the Fall '14 issue of Brain, Child magazine.
  • Michelle Schusterman's new novel Sleepovers, Solos, and Sheetmusic was released on May 15. 
  • Courtney Sheinmel's new book, Stella Batts, Something Bluewas released in April. The next book in the series None of Your Beeswax will be released next April. 
  • Taylor Sykes was a Finalist for the Brooklyn Film and Arts Non-Fiction Contest.
  • Brigit Young has an upcoming piece in The Uncommon
  • New Program: Writopia's essay writing program, developed by Danielle Sheeler, has flourished into a robust, impactful program. In a recent survey (to be published shortly), parents of Writopia's essay writers overwhelmingly reported that the program positively impacted their children's academic success.
  • New Program: Writopia's Language Play program, developed by Writopia's core staff, has taken off! Our very own Yael Schick and Eunju Namkung ran Montclare's Children's School first filmmaking class five year olds. Writopia instructors lead over a dozen workshops for children ages 2-5 throughout the year across the country.
  • New Management Initiative: This May, Rebecca Wallace-Segall attended Harvard Business School's week-long seminar for Nonprofit Executives called "Performance Measurement of Nonprofit Organizations." Writopia has begun the process of measuring the impact of our programs on our youths and on our schools. We will begin publishing our findings soon. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or suggestions.   


We have loved every moment of this past school year (check out the pictures!), and we are looking forward to a fantstic summer of teen writing workshops and workshops for kids, full day camps for all ages, and sleepaway camp for all ages. Join us! 

SummerCamp 3


Thank you to all Writopians for inspiring us with your writing every day. And thank you parents, guardians, and community supporters for reading and celebrating our news with us, and for helping us blossom into the most prolific and socioeconomically diverse creative writing youth community in our citiesand the most exciting writing program in the country! 
Read more!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Congratulations on an Award-Winning Year!


282848_10150855170961139_167431060_n 4Of the 25,000 submissions from across the country, 
our Writopia writer won the top scholarship! Congratulations...
  • Isabella Giovannini for winning the Scholastic Award's National Gold Medal Portfolio and $10,000 scholarship!
Congratulations to all of Writopia's 2013 National Medalists, grades 7-12:  Olivia Alcabes, Rachel Calnek-Sugin, Sarah Cooke, Gillian Page,  Lillie Lainoff,  Clara Olshansky, Eva Shapiro,  Katherine Snoddy, Altana Elings-Haynie, John Lhota, Alec Montgomery, Allegra Brogard, Emma Koosis, Alice Markham-Cantor, and Clea Woodbury.

"Amid Dropping Test Scores, Teen Writers' Creativity Soars":  a wonderful article about the awards on NPR by a Writopia dad and daughter team.

Read some of the winning stories in our literary magazine, 

And congratulations to the 146 Writopia writers who won recognition on the regional level, and to every single writer of all ages at Writopia who inspire and entertain us each day--we love you for it!
  • Alice Markham-Cantor, "Best of Borough"  in  Poetry.
  • May Treuhaft-Ali, Honorable Mention in Poetry. 
Our college essay students won admissions to top schools along with top scholarships!
Congratulations: May Treuhaft-Ali, Yale; Layla Treuhaft-AliWesleyan; Matthew Arbess, Brown;  Julie Byrnes, winner of a Questbridge 
college logos 1resize 3 scholarship and admittance to Vassar;  Katie Hartman, University of Pennsylvania; Nora Miller, Hampshire College; Isabella Giovannini, Yale; Sarah Cooke, Brown; Lillie Lainoff, Yale; Cecilia Laguarda, Princeton;Alice Markham-Cantor, Weslyan; Fard Shabazz, BMCC; Akiva Schick, Yeshiva University; Jessica Zeng, Bennington College, and to so many more of you!!


 Please welcome Writopia Chicago! Writopia workshops will appear for the first time in the midwest this August. We are thrilled that author Trish Cooke is spearheading this branch. 

Please welcome Writopia Long Island! Workshops began this past spring, run by comedy writer Whitney Meers. Donna Sheeler (yes; Danielle's mother) is the branch manager.

Please welcome Writopia Hudson Valley! Veteran Writopia instructor, Rachel Ephraim is spearheading this branch. Camps in this area begin this August! 


Writopia was featured in a segment for Voice of America! 
VoiceofAmerica 2


StephenDubnerWe did it! At our annual benefit in March, we raised $50,000 to expand our outreach and scholarship programs. 
Thank you to Stephen Dubner and Nicole Krauss, who read, spoke, and led our fundraising efforts. 


The Worldwide Plays Festival has grown! Over the 2012-2013 school-year, we produced over 80 plays in our series of staged readings, and in our Off-Broadway festival May 8th through May 12th
Congratulations to our accomplished playwrights! Several playwrights received media attention for their works:
Kyle AbrahamsThe New York Times
Zania CousinsThe Bronx Times 
Sienna MalmadJersey City Independent 


In 2012, Writopia began a new partnership with theNew York Public Library. We now run free workshops in public libraries throughout New York City. Enrichment doesn't end the last day of those workshops. Writopia's Driven to Write initiative ensures that we commit to chaparoning at least one writer from each NYPL workshop to Writopia's NYC locations on a regular basis. 
This summer, we will run a writing camp withHomes for the Homeless at the Saratoga Family Inn, conducting a full summer of workshops for children and teens who reside at this shelter.
In addition to our sliding-scale fees, 18% of writers who participated in Writopia workshops attended using full scholarships. 
Support from our wonderful community allows all of these programs to develop. If you would like to get involved, please contact us! 


2013AwardsAt Writopia's Annual Benefit, we honored several of our young writers for their incredible writing and for their work with the Writopia community.  

Isabella Giovannini and Alice Markham-Cantor (High School) -- The Susan Cain Award for Humility, Commitment, and Outstanding Work
Grant Gordon (Middle School)-- The Susan Cain Award for Humility, Commitment, and Outstanding Work
Annelie Hyatt (Elementary School)-- The Susan Cain Award for Humility, Commitment, and Outstanding Work
Katie Hartman and Rebecca Teich -- Outstanding Dedication to Craft, Service, and Excellence Award
Teddy Becker-Jacobs-- Community and Development Award
Rachel Calnek-Sugin, Akiva Schick, and Clea Woodbury-- Community and Mentorship Award
Margaret Heftler, Abigail Sylvor Greenberg, and Jaiden Robinson  -- Changing Worlds with Poetry Award
Matt Arbess -- Changing Worlds with Personal, Outstanding Work 
Ian Sherman and Ali Levinson-- Changing Worlds with Exemplary Dramatic Scripts.  


Alice Markham-Cantor
Alice Markham-Cantor, who has been writing at Writopia since 2008, was honored by Mayor Bloomberg at the inaugural NYC Literary Honors, along with Toni Morrison, John Ashbery, Calvin Trillin, Jon Scieszka, and Jules Feiffer

, for the excellence and breadth of her writing collection. Congratulations, Alice! 


The Larry Neal Writers' Competition commemorates the artistic legacy and vision of Larry Neal, the renowned author, academic, and former Executive Director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH). Congratulations to our DC writers and instructors who were honored with these awards! 
Poetry Finalist: Sophia Diggs-Galligan
Fiction Finalists: Celia DohertyNaomi Steinglass
 Essay Finalist: Raya Kenney 
Fiction Finalists: Bridget DeaseLucy Rose Freshour 
Fiction Finalist: Kathy Crutcher (Writopia Lab DC director & instructor)
 Dramatic Writing Finalist: Norman Allen (Writopia instructor)
Congratulations to our teens on these accomplishments: 
  • Rebecca Teich recipient of the  Telluride Association Summer Program Scholarship (TASP)--a full scholarship to attend a 6 week seminar at the University of Michigan sponsored by the Telluride Association. Rebecca was also awarded the Knopf Poetry Prize (Honorable Mention City College of New York, Poetry Outreach Center), as part of their City-Wide Poetry Contest and Festival.     
  • Ian Sherman attended the New England's Young Writers Conference at Bread Loaf this past spring. Ian will also be published in Ginosko's 13th e-mag issue this year, and the Creative Communications Spring 2013 Anthology 2013, and was the Silver Award Winner of YVNV's 2013 "Write a Dream." As a result, his play "Finding My Voice" is being produced at the 201Alliance 3 Theatre Education Black Box at the Woodruff Arts Center in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. 
  • Congratulations to Riley Pearsall and Joe Polsky for their acceptance into the Iowa Young Writers' Studio! And to Ian Sherman and Rachel Calnek-Sugin who will be attending Kenyon's Young Writer's Studio Workshop this summer. 
  • Congratulations to Annelie Hyatt for writing an award winning essay on "What the American Flag means to me" for the Forest Hills Gardens Corporations.  


  • Jordana Frankel's debut novel, The Wardwas published in April. 
  • Stephanie Strohm's new novel Confederates Don't Wear Couture, will be released on June 4th
  • Jane Kelly will be the Thurber House Children's Writer in Residence of 2013. 
  • Dan Kitrosser's play The Mumblings will be part of the New York International Fringe Festival this summer. 
  • Playwright Stephen Cedars, Winner of Theater Masters Visionary Playwright Award and a finalist for Stella Adler Playwright-in-Residence Program.
  • Hannah Wolf, teaching assistant and the Associate Artistic Director of the Worldwide Plays Fetival, will be spending 2013-14 in Bucharest, Romania on a Fulbright Grant, awarded by the US State Department.  There she'll be directing new plays and collaborating with emerging Romanian playwrights to translate new American plays in Romanian, and will be creating new works with these emerging Romanian playwrights. 
  • Chris Tarry's short story collection How to Carry Bigfoot Home will be published by Red Hen Press in early 2015.
  • Cristin Terrill's debut young adult novel All Our Yesterdays, will be published by Disney-Hyperion on September 3rd. The book recentely received a starred review from Kirkus, and has been optioned for film by Gold Circle Films and Global Produce.
  • Kathleen McCleary’s third novel, Leaving Haven is due out Oct. 1, 2013 from HarperCollins. Her second novel, A Simple Thing (HarperCollins 2012) was recently nominated for the Library of Virginia Literary Awards in fiction.
  • Tony Mancus has two forthcoming chapbooks: Bye Sea (Tree Light Books) and Diplomancy (Horse Less Press), and his poems have appeared this year or are forthcoming in numerous literary magazine, including Radioactive Moat, Horse Less Review, Phantom Limb, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Thrush Poetry Journal, and others.
  • Jessica Spotswood went on a Penguin Books for Young Readers East Coast tour in February to celebrate the paperback release of Born Wicked: Book One in the Cahill Witch Chronicles. Book Two, Star Cursed, will be out in hardback on June 18.
  • Christie Hauser's debut novel, Maritime,will be published by William Morrow in 2014. 


525334_10150627624836139_1997150618_nOver the past year, Writopia Lab has joined in on the national debate on writing education and the new common core standards. Rebecca Wallace-Segall, Writopia Lab's Executive Director Founder, wrote op-eds for The Atlantic and for TakePart. She has also made the case for the value of creative writing instruction in schools in her TedxYouth talk, and in her TedxDESA talk. 


We have loved every moment of this past school year (check out the pictures!), and we are looking forward to a fantastic summer of writing workshops and camps. Join us! 
SummerCamp 3
 L1110262Thank you to all Writopians for inspiring us with your writing every day. And thank you parents, guardians, and community supporters for reading and celebrating our news with us, and for helping us blossom into the most socioeconomically diverse creative writing youth community in New York--and the most exciting writing program in the country! 

Read more!