National Writing Project

MacArthur Grant Will Expand National Writing Project’s Digital Media Program


For Immediate Release


Berkeley, CA, February 18, 2010 – The National Writing Project (NWP) announced today that it will receive an $800,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to expand the "Digital Is" program, NWP's nationwide initiative to create and disseminate new classroom practices that use digital media to teach young people how to write. With this grant, MacArthur Foundation's support for "Digital Is" will total $1.1 million.

The focus of the two-year grant will be on developing and disseminating resources and professional development opportunities for teachers, building processes and rubrics for assessing multimodal student work, and collaborating with other organizations working to support young people in using new digital technologies. Established in 2008, "Digital Is" enables local writing project sites across the country to conduct workshops and develop resources for teachers in all 50 states.

"Interest in using technology in the classroom has taken off," said Sharon J. Washington, executive director of the National Writing Project. "Teachers are eager to learn how to integrate these new technologies into their teaching. The demand from educators for new and innovative resources and learning opportunities has increased dramatically. We are honored that the MacArthur Foundation is supporting our efforts to engage educators in this exciting area."

Since the early 1990s, NWP teacher-leaders have been at the forefront of exploring the implications of new digital tools for the teaching of writing. Through "Digital Is," the NWP aims to create a hub for a broad range of teacher communities to access resources and knowledge for the growing field of digital writing.

"Writing in its many forms is the signature means of communication in the 21st century," Dr. Washington continued. "The NWP envisions a future where every person is an accomplished writer, engaged learner, and active participant in a digital, interconnected world."

The more than 200 sites that make up the NWP network are hosted by universities and colleges across the country. In addition to developing a leadership cadre of local teachers through invitational summer institutes, NWP sites design and deliver customized professional development programs for local schools, districts, and higher education institutions.

The National Writing Project is the most significant coordinated effort to improve writing in America. NWP sites, located on more than 200 university and college campuses, serve more than 135,000 participants annually. NWP continues to add new sites each year, with the goal of placing the writing project within reach of every teacher in America. Through its professional development model, NWP develops the leadership, programs, and research needed for teachers to help students become successful writers and learners. For more information, visit

The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. MacArthur's $50-million digital media and learning initiative seeks to gain a better understanding of how digital technologies are changing how young people learn, play, socialize, exercise judgment, and engage in civic life. More information is available at or

Related Resource Topics