Girls Write Now
Helping girls helps the world—meet the inspiring woman who's doing just that.
What better way to get into the season of giving than to meet an inspiring woman who works to give back to her community? We had the chance to sit down with Maya Nussbaum, the founder and director of Girls Write Now, an organization aimed at helping girls from underserved areas of New York City by teaching them to write. "Writing gives girls a voice and a way to share their stories," says Maya. The organization matches girls with mentors—professional female writers from incredibly diverse backgrounds—for a year or more. Over the course of their time together, the girls learn to share their stories through writing, build impressive portfolios and get valuable college prep advice. To date, they’ve served over 5,000 girls, and, incredibly, 100% of the high school seniors they've worked with have gone on to college. In 2016, Maya, her growing team and her (all-female!) board of directors will launch into a three-year strategy to double the number of girls they’re serving. They’ve joined Hive Learning Networks, which has allowed them to expand their services in digital skills and web literacy tremendously. The New York Community Trust named them one of 10 semifinalists in its Nonprofit Excellence Awards. Girls Write Now is also participating in the New York City Council’s $1 million initiative to support the healthy development of girls and young women. Maya filled us in on what makes Girls Write Now so impactful, her goals for improving the program even more—and how you can help the organization keep up the amazing work.
Writing gives our girls a voice
Developmentally speaking, girls start to be creatively and intellectually awakened in high school. Our goal is to expose them to female role models and to opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise had during that crucial time. Writing gives girls a voice. It’s a way for them to confidently and authentically tell their stories, which are really important for people to hear. Something magical happens in an all-girls setting: they have security and support, which is incredibly important for teenage girls. We’ve created a safe and supportive space for girls to take creative risks.
We’re serving the complete girl
When it comes to working with teenage girls from underserved areas, we are keenly aware of the emotional and psychosocial issues that come up in their lives and relationships, as well as the daunting practical challenges of getting to college. We’re serving the complete girl and her greater needs, beyond simply teaching her to write, in particular thanks to our college prep and therapeutic services. In our College Bound program, we teach girls to tell their stories through the college essay and application process.
Helping them helps the world
It’s about changing the world, starting with girls. Giving these girls a chance to tell their stories has an impact on everyone—their families, future generations, people they interact with in college and beyond, the people they might lead one day.
You can help
We’re launching our holiday appeal campaign this month—each dollar we raise makes a huge difference in investing in the girls of the future—so stay tuned for more information. We host an amazing reading series, where you can give our mentees an audience as they share their stories aloud, and we have a digital exhibition of our girls’ work called QWERTY (check out last year's event here, and get info on next year's here). You can also donate on our site or volunteer your time by applying to be a mentor.
Pictured above: Girls Write Now Founder and Executive Director, Maya Nussbaum, (center) at the 2015 Girls Write Now Awards with (from left to right) journalist and author Mariane Pearl, Pamela Paul, editor of the New York Times Book Review, Juju Chang co-anchor of Nightline on ABC News, and author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Images courtesy of Girls Write Now