Mission and History
The D.C. Creative Writing Workshop, based in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Southeast D.C., unites parents, teachers and professional writers-in-residence to transform the lives of youth through the joys of self-expression and the power of the written word.
In 1995, Nancy Schwalb came to work in D.C. schools as part of the D.C. WritersCorps, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and AmeriCorps. When D.C. WritersCorps became an independent nonprofit, Nancy remained as a teaching artist in the Congress Heights schools. In 2000, the organization gained non-profit status and officially became the D.C. Creative Writing Workshop.
Initially we served only Hart Middle School, making Hart the first school in D.C. to have an extracurricular creative writing program. In 2004, some of our Hart students who had graduated began to demand an opportunity to write in high school. We thought they were right, and so we expanded to hold residencies in Ballou High School and publish the high school literary journal Voice of the Knight. Then parents at Simon Elementary, whose older children attended Hart, asked for creative writing experiences for their younger children. We agreed that starting earlier is always better, and so our Writers-in-Residence began offering classes at Simon as well. Simon students are now published in the annual poetry magazine Simon Says.
Today the Workshop serves over 500 students, ages 8 to 18, each year. Our students see at least 6 professional theater productions, perform at three readings, and publish five magazines every year. Through our Young-Writers-in-Residence program we provide mentoring and leadership training to high students and recent graduates. Over the years, the workshop has grown as a family, and the bonds in our community are stronger than ever. We receive visits from Writing Club alumni of more than a decade ago, who still come in excited to hug their old friends, get a snack, and sit down to write.