Welcome to The Iowa Youth Writing Project!

Knittle-Spotlight

Do you have a favorite story or anecdote about your volunteer experience?
Last May, I attended Tate’s graduation, and it was exciting to see so many of my Poetry Club students graduate. It was also exciting to see how many of the students in the graduating class gave Kate Richey (the teacher who I work with in Poetry Club) a huge hug as they walked across the stage. In the time I’ve spent working with high school students, she’s the best teacher I’ve ever met, and she’s a tremendous resource to the students in our club, so it was really lovely to see how excited so many of the students at Tate were to give her a big hug.

How do you assemble a lesson plan? Is there a set process or is it more rooted in intuition? The lesson plans that I use in Poetry Club at Tate are different from the lesson plans that I use in my Poetry Writing class with my undergraduate students, but in both cases, when I design curriculum, I’m interested in creating a lesson where students can make use of a new idea or approach to expand the way they think about what they know, or to put together information in a different way.

One exercise that Jess, another Tate volunteer, led a few weeks ago did this perfectly. She gave students slips of paper with words that have many different definitions and asked them to use as many definitions as possible in a poem, which our students really enjoyed, and which got them thinking about all of the strange things language does. This became an exciting part of the poems that they wrote that day.

I heard you helped write a grant for the Iowa Youth Writing Project. Is there any advice you would give for aspiring grant writers? Rachel Yoder and I just finished writing a grant for the Junior High Writing Conference in April 2015. I loved writing a grant for IYWP because it gave me the opportunity to put into words what an amazing program IYWP is and how grateful I am that my students have our poetry club as a resource. Through the IYWP, I have the opportunity to spend time with high school students both thinking about poetry and just enjoying what poems can do and how exciting it is to make something new out of what you walk around thinking and seeing every day.

What motivates you when you volunteer?
At Tate, I’m motivated by the space that we make in Poetry Club. It’s just half an hour once a week, but it feels like a sacred space. The work that my students write is amazing. I’m also inspired by watching Kate Richey work with her students. I’ve thought for a long time that I’d like to work with high school students forever, but watching Kate has made me even more certain and has shown me what a difference a really excellent teacher can make.

Thanks again, Davy! Your work is greatly appreciated!


The Iowa Youth Writing Project (IYWP) is a non-profit outreach collective founded by University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduates in 2010 that aims to join Iowa City’s unique literary heritage with Iowa’s larger community by empowering, inspiring, and educating Iowa’s youth through language arts and creative thinking.

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We provide one-of-a-kind writing, publishing, and creative learning opportunities to Iowa’s children and teens. To ensure that all young people can participate, the IYWP provides programs at little or no cost, thanks to the time, energy, and creativity of IYWP volunteers, partnerships with local organizations and institutions, and the generosity of community members.

In July 2012, the Frank N. Magid Undergraduate Writing Center in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts & Sciences was granted a Better Futures for Iowans award, launching a pilot partnership with the IYWP, which will secure, expand, deepen, and build on the IYWP’s ongoing outreach efforts. This initiative, supported primarily by the Office of the Provost, brings the University of Iowa and the larger community together to work toward common goals of social good and better futures for all of Iowa’s youth.

IYWP Goals and Objectives

  • lynzee1To foster imagination and the art of creative writing and communication for children and teens
  • To provide free opportunities for project-based literary and interdisciplinary learning
  • To inspire children and teens with a lifelong appreciation of the writing arts
  • To create events, workshops, and other avenues for children and teens to work with nationally recognized and professional writers
  • To provide after-school and in-school support for teachers and students
  • To serve as a resource for student writing and publishing
  • To empower youth through language, literature, and creative thinking