National Writing Project

Urban Sites Network Grant

2009-2010 USN Minigrants

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

New This Year

Beginning this year your site director is required to enter the requested minigrant budget into the online budget system in order to complete your site's minigrant proposal. You may use the Minigrant Budget Template (below) to prepare the budget request, which your site director can then enter into the system.

For more, view the original proposal information.

Eight Participating Sites

Bay Area Writing Project, California

This minigrant funds a five-day Bay Area Writing Project (BAWP) intersession program for student teachers in the Graduate School of Education (GSE) at the University of California, Berkeley. The project provides student teachers in credential programs with essential training in the teaching of writing, both in English and across content areas, and increases the number of new teachers who become active in BAWP early in their teaching careers. This pilot serves as a model for establishing links between BAWP and the teacher education programs at the university, with particular attention to better preparing new teachers to teach writing in urban schools.

Hoosier Writing Project, Indiana

The Hoosier Writing Project plans to form a leadership team that will study issues of equity both in site recruiting and leadership and in student achievement in area schools. During an advanced institute in summer 2009, a large group of teacher-consultants are engaged in this focused inquiry into site values and practices. The framework for the spring inquiry and the summer advanced institute is based on the kind of teacher inquiry discussed in NWP's Working Toward Equity as well as Glenn Singleton and Curtis Linton's ideas in Courageous Conversations About Race. The goal is to deepen site leaders' understanding of local equity issues related to professional development and the teaching of literacy, broaden and diversify site leadership, and integrate equity issues into professional development offerings to area schools and teachers.

Nebraska Writing Project, Nebraska

Using reading and writing to promote social justice literacy in secondary classrooms throughout the Omaha metropolitan area, this minigrant funds the Literacy for Social Justice in the Urban Heartland project to develop site leadership among urban educators. First, a group of Omaha area educators explore the social justice literacy principles of Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Sheridan Blau's The Literature Workshop, and the National Writing Project's Writing for a Change. Second, educators work with a group of secondary students from eight different schools in developing an ongoing, yearlong writing and reading program to promote social justice. Third, the teacher/student teams present their projects to a wide audience of Nebraska Writing Project teachers, community members, and students.

National Writing Project at Rutgers University, New Jersey

The focus of this minigrant project is to provide comprehensive, research-based professional development to urban teachers in New Jersey to support the creation of writing camps. Encouraged to conduct inquiry about their community and student needs outside of district mandates and traditional pedagogy, participating teachers are supported to design and implement a comprehensive two-week summer writing program in collaboration with teacher-consultant facilitators. Teacher-consultant demos, chosen specifically for the needs of the district, are infused into the training. Teacher-consultants also plan the curriculum for the Urban Youth Writing Camp Academy for Teachers, which takes place during the 2009-2010 school year.

New York City Writing Project, New York

The focus of this minigrant is to complete Stories of Impact, a project that collects ten narratives of teacher-consultants’ collaborations with individual teachers across a range of partnership schools. The project frames these stories within the New York City Writing Project’s approach to its school-partnership work and within current research and theory on adolescent literacy reform and professional development. Funds are allocated to edit and complete the collection and to disseminate it locally and nationally.

Oklahoma State University Writing Project, Oklahoma

Building on the work of a previous Urban Sites Network (USN) minigrant (2005-2006), this minigrant project supports a teacher inquiry group at Tulsa Community College (TCC) to discuss how classroom attendance has impacted the effective delivery of course content. This minigrant allows the Oklahoma State University Writing Project to further extend its work within TCC by providing support in writing across the content areas.

Penn State Lehigh Valley Writing Project, Pennsylvania

Seven teachers (three teacher-consultants and four other teachers) and seven inner-city students plan to meet and work in collaborative pairs to explore each other's daily lives and cultures. The student/teacher pairs reflect this process through writing and photography, and publish their findings so that others may follow the model to help put urban students at the center of their own education. This project works under the premise that 21st century students—and urban students, who often face an array of obstacles in their daily learning environments—should be encouraged to take ownership of their education. Penn State Lehigh Valley Writing Project leaders design and conduct a professional development experience for writing project fellows and area teachers that engages them in a dialogue about urban education and allows them to get insight, directly from students, into some pressing questions impacting urban schools.

Upstate Writing Project, South Carolina

The this minigrant supports teachers' participation in a semester-long open institute that examines the nature of the teacher/student relationship as it currently exists between teachers and their African American male students. Participants are encouraged to reflect on the possibility of increasing the students' academic achievement in reading and writing by transforming the teacher/student relationship into one that incorporates the fundamental concepts of mentorship. The core text is Alfred Tatum's Teaching Reading to Black Adolescents. Two films, Finding Forrester and The Great Debaters, are also used as a framework for examining the mentor relationship in action. Participants are supported to develop an action research project to further investigate the mentor relationship and its effect on student achievement in their own classrooms.


For more information, contact Lance Dennis at
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