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
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