National Writing Project

Funding Cuts Threaten Future Programs for Local Educators

For Immediate Release


Berkeley, California, August 31, 2011 – As the over 3,000 teachers who attended National Writing Project (NWP) professional development institutes this summer start school this fall, they will be returning with new ideas and strategies to help students improve their writing. They will also be better connected to a professional community—and therefore better equipped to teach their students how to write in this digital age.

Enthusiastic teacher-leaders from all grade levels and disciplines attended professional development institutes held at 200 university-based Writing Project sites across the country. In spite of this success, the future looks uncertain given the deep cuts in federal support for these and other important literacy investments."Thousands of teachers will return to school this fall with more than their batteries recharged," said Dr. Sharon J. Washington, NWP Executive Director. "These educators have enhanced their knowledge of theory, research, and practice to help students become better writers and learners. Going forward, without financial support from the U.S. Department of Education that local communities had been required to match, it will be very difficult for NWP to continue to provide the funding for these summer institutes."

Teachers are not only taking new ideas and strategies back to school: they're also returning to their schools with resources from a network of national colleagues from pre-kindergarten through university, across content, discipline, and state lines. These professional relationships will be maintained through online professional conversations, using tools like Twitter, Facebook, Nings, and blogs, important tools for teachers and their students in the digital age.

In the past, local communities have matched financial support from the U.S. Department of Education to conduct these institutes. Now, the sharp loss in federal support for the NWP will put pressure on local sites to replace this funding in future years.

After the invitational summer institute, Writing Project teacher-leaders conduct workshops for other teachers in their communities. Early childhood to university educators from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands attend the NWP invitational summer institutes at local universities to enrich their teaching practices and learn various approaches for improving student writing and learning.

Deborah Murray, elementary teacher at Geneseo Elementary School, Geneseo, New York, attended the Genesee Valley Writing Project Summer Institute at the University of Rochester."The Summer Institute was the best professional development that I've had in my career as a teacher," said Murray.


The National Writing Project (NWP) is a nationwide network of educators working together to improve the teaching of writing in the nation's schools and in other settings. NWP provides high-quality professional development programs to teachers in a variety of disciplines and at all levels, from early childhood through university. Through its network of 200 university-based sites located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, NWP develops the leadership, programs, and research needed for teachers to help students become successful writers and learners.

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