In the summer of 2022, T&W embarked on a review of our mission, vision, and values. The goal was to consider how these directives might more closely respond to the current landscapes of arts education, social equity, and the needs of the communities we serve. We also wished to remain faithful to the heart of what inspired T&W’s founders: a strong belief in the power of writing to transform the lives of young people.
One of our chief concerns was to explicitly define equity as central to our mission. The desire to move the education system toward greater equity has always been at the core of T&W’s work. Indeed, it was the driving force that led our founders—among them poet activists June Jordan, Grace Paley, and Kenneth Koch—to establish the Collaborative in response to inadequate resources in New York City public schools, especially those in poorer districts, directed to the arts. Fifty-five years later, schools are facing the same challenges. We remain as committed as ever to partnering with schools and community centers in under-resourced communities and to creating platforms that amplify voices that have been historically marginalized.
The mission, vision, values, and strategic goals were generated by the T&W staff in collaboration with the board, advisory board, teaching artists, and other key members of the T&W community.
Following is a letter from our executive director, Asari Beale, and board chair, Luis Jaramillo, included in the Strategic Vision.
The last three years have been a period of great transition for T&W. In 2019, Asari Beale joined the organization as its Executive Director. Within a year, the pandemic shut down schools and community centers. Nonetheless, T&W continued running programs for kids, seniors, and people with disabilities. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, T&W has emerged with a stronger sense of what we do and why we do it and with a talented team working to achieve our vision.
Over the last three years, we have expanded our staff to maintain our existing programs and pursue opportunities for innovation and growth. All of our employees are writers and teachers, so our work is directly informed by our personal experience. In addition, we have recruited a terrific roster of teaching artists whose diversity and talent contribute to the richness of our programs. Finally, we have steadily put in place the technological systems to allow us to work more effectively, including a new website for Teachers & Writers Magazine, due to launch in January 2023, that will make our resources even more accessible.
The next three years will be a continuation of this process of fortifying for the future. Our major goals include:
- Program Innovation: Deepening the impact of our work, keeping diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion at the center of all we do.
- Community Building: Supporting our community of teaching artists and sharing their innovations with a broader audience
- Board Development & Fundraising: Strengthening an active board that will champion T&W as we move into our next chapter as an organization.
This document is the culmination of conversations with our T&W community, including staff, teaching artists, board, advisory board, and friends. It reflects their passion and dedication to our work. We are grateful for the support of this vibrant family and look forward shaping the future of Teachers & Writers Collaborative together.
In the spirit of creativity and community,
Asari Beale, Executive Director
Luis Jaramillo, Board Chair