National Writing Project

Urban Sites Network Grant

2007-2008 USN Minigrants

The Urban Sites Network offers minigrant funds to NWP sites on an annual basis. Every fall, USN minigrants are offered as part of the special-focus networks minigrant program in conjunction with the NWP application for continued funding. Funding criteria and awards are determined through a peer-review process; grants are awarded in the spring of each year. This year, grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded.

For more, view the original proposal information.

Seven Participating Sites

Bay Area Writing Project, California

The Bay Area Writing Project’s “African American Youth and the Teaching of Writing” (AAY) study group will use activities, discussion, and an anthology of their own writings in work with community-based groups. AAY members will bring these groups together in settings such as churches and community centers in the city of Oakland to create new links and dialogue among writing teachers, parents, children, community members, and school administrators. While many initiatives and special programs are at work in the Oakland community addressing education, not many are planned and conducted by a teacher group that is predominantly African American. This project will affect all parties involved by opening up new learnings, insights, and personal understandings through rich dialogue and by addressing critical literacy issues and concerns facing African American students in Oakland schools.

San Diego Area Writing Project, California

Based on its successful student program “Writing the College Application Essay,” the San Diego Area Writing Project (SDAWP) will develop and deliver an open-program format professional development for teachers and counselors in its service area. The open program will be followed by a pilot program at one school in which SDAWP teacher-consultants will coach teachers in instructing and responding to the college application essay. This work is based on research on the college application, which suggests that the essay can prove to be a barrier to second language students who could otherwise qualify for college admission. This program broadens successful SDAWP work while expanding leadership capacity and developing a program to address an acute need within the learning community.

UCLA Writing Project, California

This minigrant project will support a writing retreat for twenty-five UCLA Writing Project coaches working in the secondary schools in the Los Angeles School District’s Local District 3. These coaches often find themselves in uncomfortable situations as they balance writing project philosophy with the demands of the district—demands to use specific programs, to cater to a testing schedule that swallows up much teaching time, to attend to district and state and federal mandates. But they do it so successfully that Academic Performance Index (API) scores have risen across the board, not only within Local District 3 but also in comparison to other local districts in the Los Angeles Unified School District. This minigrant funding will give UCLA Writing Project teacher-consultants an opportunity to define their essential questions, reflect on their practice, and devote time to writing at a two-day writing retreat.

Western Massachusetts Writing Project, Massachusetts

Urban teachers in Western Massachusetts face enormous challenges in their daily work, including the pressure of meeting performance standards of No Child Left Behind. Urban school districts have adopted a variety of literacy programs that impose demands on teachers and leave them little time to consider current theory and research, to reflect on their own writing and teaching practices, or to exchange ideas and experiences with colleagues. The Western Massachusetts Writing Project will offer a two-week open institute that will give urban teachers the time and space to engage in this kind of productive work. “Revitalizing Writing in Math and Science” will include time for facilitated sharing of teaching practices, for personal writing and response, and for developing a plan based on inquiry of an essential question. Follow-up meetings during the school year will enable teachers to examine critically the effectiveness of techniques learned in the summer that they implement in their classrooms.

Long Island Writing Project, New York

Building on the work of a previous Urban Sites Network minigrant, the Long Island Writing Project will sustain an inquiry group for teachers in the Baldwin School District to discuss the changes in demographics affecting the district and to engage in conversations about race in a supportive, structured environment. While all parties are aware of their differences, there is a lack of acknowledgment of and honest dialogue about these differences and about the importance of the role played by race in interactions between and among students, teachers, and parents. The inquiry group will provide a context for teachers to become more informed and self-aware about the ways in which difference affects schooling. As Baldwin’s population continues to shift, this group will work toward preserving good teaching, high expectations, and collegial relations among faculty, students, and the surrounding community.

UNC Charlotte Writing Project, North Carolina

This minigrant project, “Exploring ‘Funds of Knowledge’ of Urban School Children,” will support teacher-consultants and their students in researching home and school literacies. The purpose is for teachers to probe their understandings of home and school literacies and to name, understand, and value the various literate practices in which children engage, so that the classroom can become a space where competing knowledge and discourse are brought together in conversation. The research will challenge and reshape both school literacy practices and the knowledge and language practices of children’s everyday lives.

Heart of Texas Writing Project, Texas

The East Austin Primary Network of the Heart of Texas Writing Project (HTWP) is a group consisting of teachers in grades pre-K through 2. This network will meet regularly across the 2007–2008 school year in schools in East and South Austin, where the concentration of poor and minority children is greatest. The purpose is to create expertise among the teachers so that they can become a resource for the city’s schools. In many urban elementary schools, wave upon wave of reading programs have essentially squelched the conversation about writing in the early grades, and this network is designed to renew that conversation in schools. For HTWP, this work will help to advance several goals: becoming more visible in high-need urban schools; becoming more inclusive of urban teachers and primary teachers; and developing relationships to Austin’s elementary principals and the district as a whole.


For more information, contact Iana Rogers at or 510-643-6796.
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