Vermont College of Fine Arts has launched a new initiative to cultivate a diverse next generation of writers.
The VCFA Young Writers Network was founded by graduates of the college’s renowned MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program and connects its alumni authors to youth who are underserved by existing creative writing programs and underrepresented in children’s literature as a whole.
“With this initiative we’re applying one of VCFA’s most powerful resources—our large, growing, and passionate alumni network—to an imperative in our field: the need for literature that represents a full range of human experience and for networks that support diverse artists to realize their potential,” said Thomas Christopher Greene, VCFA President.
“I appreciate the many individuals and organizations engaged in diversifying children’s literature and have long believed that the VCFA community can and should be part of that effort,” said VCFA faculty member Uma Krishnaswami. “This initiative draws on the unique talents of our alumni—many of whom are experienced educators—as well as the advice and support of friends in the field.”
The Young Writers Network connects authors to children in two ways:
- Building partnerships with nonprofits that reach underserved youth in regions where VCFA alumni live, offering high-quality writing workshops to children ages 6-18.
- Organizing group author trips to communities where fewer authors live and such opportunities are rare.
The program began as a pilot project, providing 10 writing workshops to more than 150 children in Boston and New York City this year. At capacity, the network will reach upwards of 1,500 children per year across multiple locations. Long-term plans include an MFA-style camp for diverse teens writers and possible expansion to other art forms.
Katie Bayerl, the program’s director and a VCFA alumna, said, “Our ultimate goal is to help create a shift in the writing industry by expanding access to writing opportunities for underrepresented and underserved kids and by building a national mentorship network that supports these future writers throughout their careers. Just as VCFA has supported so many of us.”
The VCFA Young Writers Network was launched with generous sponsorships from the Erin Murphy Literary Agency and an anonymous supporter, as well as gifts from more than 40 VCFA alumni, faculty, and friends.