Many after-school programs for children are an outlet for students to remain active and supervised while their parents are at work. Mighty Writers, however, has a much more specific goal: to help kids 5 and up with their ability to express themselves creatively.
Program Director Rachel Loeper helped create Mighty Writers with Tim Whitaker in the beginning of 2009, wishing to continue her love of writing with a community writing center. Mighty Writers ran 12 workshops their first summer and has been going strong since.
Working for her school newspaper as a teenager, Loeper realized how writing “really became part of her identity as a young person,” she said. “I realized how important it was to me and it was surprising to me that nothing like that was happening in Philadelphia.”
“Kids desperately need math and science programs as well,” said Loeper. “[But] I do think writing is central to ... helping kids with critical thinking. And therefore learning how to write — and learning how to express your thoughts and your thought process — does help students with their math skills, does help students with their scientific process.”
Mighty Writers has an after-school program Sunday through Thursday for students from second to eighth grade and a program for teenagers every Wednesday.
Volunteers ‘our lifeblood’
Approximately 800 volunteers have worked with the children, and many do so long-term. Mighty Writers is a completely free center for students, largely thanks to these volunteers. There are only four full-time staff members.
“I probably get five to 10 tutor sign-ups and five to 10 family sign-ups through our website every week,” Loeper said. “Volunteers are our lifeblood.”