Deep Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was founded in 2008 to address the detrimental effects of poverty on literacy in Savannah, Georgia. During our first year, we hosted free writing workshops for 24 kids from two local public schools and published one anthology.
Since our founding, nearly 3,000 kids have each enjoyed a fully-funded scholarship to our writing programs and have been published in a book. We’ve published more than 74 anthologies of student work, trained more than 200 local writing mentors, and hosted live readings reaching diverse audiences of 5,600 (now 1,800 annually). Our Young Author Project runs in 14 public middle schools in Savannah in the spring and the fall every year, serving roughly 280 kids annually; and our advanced Block by Block program runs year-round, including in the summer months, serving 24 young creative leaders from roughly 8 public high schools annually.
WHY WE WRITE: Statement of Need
Twenty-eight percent of Savannah’s residents live in poverty, and 65% of public school students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Research shows strong links between poverty and illiteracy, and Savannah’s public schools alone cannot meet the manifold needs of children growing up poor. A quarter of Chatham County’s public middle-school students fail to meet state minimum writing standards and more than one-third don’t graduate from high school on time. Furthermore, many of our young people struggle to express themselves, hear directly or indirectly that their stories don’t matter, and are bombarded with negative messages about themselves and their communities with few opportunities to respond with truth and their own perspectives.
VISION: The Change We See
We envision a Savannah where our young people thrive as students, community leaders, and artists; and we envision a community that hears, values, and responds to their voices.
MISSION: The Work We Do
Deep Center takes an in-depth approach to literacy by challenging young people to engage with language and their stories through writing, reading, and performance. We help them write and express themselves with skill, confidence, and courage, and we showcase their best work through publication and live readings.
Deep also strives to raise the voices of diverse young people in our community to ensure their perspectives, stories, and aesthetics are part of our rich cultural fabric, and to afford them the opportunity to engage in critical debates and the development of new cultural forms and movements.
CORE VALUES: What Drives Us
We believe that a deep exploration of our community’s shared and diverse narratives is the surest way to open minds, encourage hearts, and inspire change.
We believe that solutions are found both locally and nationally: we leverage the talent, creativity, and care that exists in our city while sharing ideas with experts and practitioners nationwide.
We believe that we build true knowledge and understanding by valuing every person in the room for the unique fund of knowledge they bring. Savannah has as much to learn from its young people.
We believe that when we value the honest voices of young people, they gain confidence in themselves and the power to take charge of their stories and transform their communities.
We believe in the rewards that come from sustained hard work. We work hard and require only one thing of our kids: their very best efforts, especially in the face of adversity.
We believe that honesty—both in writing and in life—requires bravery and conviction. We strive to inspire intellectual and emotional courage in our young people.
We believe that true creativity springs from a motivated and joyful approach to complex problem-solving. We delight in our work and deliberately incorporate fun into everything we do.
The Dish On All Things Deep
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