Red Bank Middle School students proudly display the notebooks that have helped them grow academically and personally, as part of Project Write Now’s Literacy Outreach Program. The nonprofit has announced a fundraising campaign to help finance the program’s move to a new self-contained classroom/studio space on Bridge Avenue.
What if we shared our true feelings about everyone/ Would that be weird?
What if we all looked the same/ Would you know who you really are?
What if we all got along and put issues aside/ What if we all matured and started taking action
What if we all had no social media/ Would you be who you truly are today?
What if we all fought every day/ Would you call it a riot?
What if we all loved each other and cared about each other/ Would you consider that as family?
What if we all had one/ What would you wish for?
What if we all made billions/ What would you do with that money?
What if we all started to be honest/ Would that scare you?
The wise words were composed by a 7th grader from here in Red Bank — a student poet who participates in a modestly scaled (but expansively ambitious) program conducted by Project Write Now.
As Jennifer Chauhan, co-founder of the borough-based nonprofit enterprise writes, “Since January, we’ve had the privilege of working with 7th and 8th grade students at Red Bank Middle School through our Literacy Outreach Program. We’ve encouraged them to write freely, and they’ve opened up, exploring their thoughts and beliefs.”
The executive director of Project Write Now goes on to explain that she and fellow co-founder Allison Tevald have received “more than one hundred thank-you letters, telling us how much they’ve grown academically and personally. One student told us she never would have finished her school assignments without our encouragement. Another boy is perceived as a troublemaker, yet with us he writes poetry (including the above example) that inspires his peers.”
An impressive set of results for the program’s inaugural year — but as Chauhan sees it, the successes of the current class have set the stage for the expansion of the program; a plan that centers around a campaign aimed at funding Write Now’s move to an enhanced studio space at its Bridge Avenue address.
As the exec director continues:
“Our plan is to create an exciting, dynamic after-school program at our studio. We are moving into a bigger space on the first floor of our building and creating a professional atmosphere (separate classroom, desks with computers, reading nook) where they will work under the guidance of editors and mentors with the goal of publishing their work in literary journals and anthologies.
“More than 80 percent of students at Red Bank Middle School receive free or reduced-price lunch assistance. These students face challenges that we can help them navigate through by arming them with effective writing and communication skills. Through mentorship, we will guide them through an engaging process that culminates with college essays and job applications.
“To provide the after-school program, as well as continue our literacy outreach work, we are asking you to join our campaign by making a PayPal donation here. You may also mail a check to: Project Write Now, 25 Bridge Ave., Suite 203B, Red Bank, NJ 07701.
“Your contribution will help us develop our after-school writing studio, including salaries for our staff, computers, books for our library, and printing costs for student publications. We will also be able to continue our literacy outreach work, providing writing workshops at Red Bank Middle School and other locations and college essay support for students at The Source at Red Bank Regional High School.
We will acknowledge our founding donors on our “Donor Wall,” which will be a mural painting. For more information on how to become a founding donor, please contact Suzanne Ritger at email@example.com.”
On Tuesday, December 1, Project Write Now celebrates the “Voices of Red Bank” with a special presentation at its new 25 Bridge Avenue studio — a day-long series of poetry readings (from 6 am to 6 pm) by select individuals representing various organizations in Red Bank–including Mayor Pasquale Menna, a firefighter, staff from Lunch Break, students from the Red Bank schools, staff from the Red Bank Public Library, and more. Then from 6 to 9 pm, the Write Now team hosts a Studio Grand Opening Celebration that offers a chance to meet staff and students; tour the new space and enjoy light refreshments.