Established in 1991, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop is a national not-for-profit arts organization devoted to creating, publishing, and developing creative writing by Asian Americans. Since 2010, the group has committed to giving away more than $100,000 to emerging Asian American writers. Its online magazine, The Margins, has attracted more than half a million visitors. The AAWW also hosts events featuring hundreds of writers a year, with Maxine Hong Kingston and Chang-rae Lee among the luminaries.
Barbershop Books is a community-based literacy program that creates friendly reading spaces in barbershops for boys. The nonprofit’s mission is to help black boys between the ages of four and eight become readers by bringing books into barbershops—and involving the men who work there to help foster a love of reading. Every dollar invested in a reading space results in 27 minutes of reading in a barbershop. Find out more about the program’s impact as well as how you can get involved.
Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the volunteer-run nonprofit organization Books Through Bars distributes free books to incarcerated people in the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and West Virginia. Each week, the organization receives hundreds of letters from prisoners requesting books. And every year Books Through Bars sends more than 8,000 packages of books.
In 1995, country singer Dolly Parton started the nonprofit Imagination Library to promote reading in her home state of Tennessee. Today the group has donated millions of books to children in need throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Every month the Imagination Library mails more than 1 million books to children’s homes, and in February the nonprofit sent its 100 millionth book. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library partners with local communities; if your community would like to get involved, learn more here.
Celebrating its 20th year, the nonprofit Girls Write Now is a community of women writers from ages 13 to 83. The group matches girls with professional women writers to work on portfolios and readings as well as provides writing workshops and college preparation. The New York City-based organization accepts donations and is seeking mentors, mentees, and people to join its team. “We take girls seriously for who they are as well as who they will become,” the group says. “The relationships we foster tear down stereotypes, building a community of women writers of all ages who work to inspire and support one another with every pair session, every reading, and every workshop.”
The International Literacy Association is a global nonprofit organization of more than 300,000 educators, researchers, and experts across 78 countries. Its mission is to make literacy accessible for all. ILA collaborates with its partners to develop, gather, and disseminate high-quality resources, best practices, and cutting-edge research to empower educators, inspire students, and inform policymakers.
The nonprofit Lambda Literary believes “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer literature is fundamental to the preservation of our culture and that LGBTQ lives are affirmed when our stories are written, published, and read.” The group traces its beginnings back to 1987, when L. Page Maccubbin, owner of Lambda Rising Bookstore in Washington, D.C., published the first Lambda Book Report. The Lambda Literary Awards, or “Lammys,” followed in 1989. Then in 2007, the group founded its Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices, a residency designed to offer intensive and sophisticated instruction to select writers over a one-week period. Lambda Literary accepts donations to sustain all of its programs.
The nonprofit Learning Ally uses educational technology to assist struggling readers who have learning differences and visual disabilities. Its cloud-based library of narrated audio textbooks and popular literature—all voiced by volunteers—gives these students access to grade-level content so they can become successful, engaged learners alongside their peers. Working with schools across the U.S., Learning Ally provides teachers with tools, training, and support to help students.
Painted red and shaped like a miniature one-room schoolhouse in honor of his schoolteacher mother, the first Little Free Library—built by Todd Bol in Hudson, Wisconsin, in 2009—launched what would become a worldwide movement. Just nine years later, more than 75,000 such “Little Free Libraries” dot the globe in all 50 U.S. states and in 88 countries. Often custom painted by local artists, these tiny book collections are outfitted with the cheerful motto “Take a book, return a book!” Believing that no one should have to live in a book desert, the nonprofit Little Free Library needs donations to keep the movement going. Find out how you can help place a Little Free Library in your hometown and in cities across the globe. You can also get involved by becoming the “steward” of your own library by ordering one ready-made or designing your own!
Each November means something special in the writing community: It’s time for National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo). The basic challenge is to write 50,000 words of a rough draft in the month of November, but NaNoWriMo is so much more than that. The organization provides the structure, community, and guidance necessary to help people find their voices and develop the tools and discipline necessary to build writing mastery. Its programs extend beyond November and go year-round to help people get from the first draft to the last draft and provide opportunities for all ages to participate in a literary community on local and global levels.
We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots nonprofit program that is run by children’s book lovers and aims to increase the diversity of books available to young readers. The group works to promote literature featuring children’s book characters who are from diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, indigenous, LGBTQ, and other minority communities. We Need Diverse Books was spearheaded by author Ellen Oh and 21 other children’s book writers and industry professionals. The group was founded on the belief that more diversity in children’s books better reflects the world and teaches kids about our differences as well as our shared feelings and aspirations.
Founded in 2003, Words Without Borders is an organization that promotes cultural understanding through the translation and publication of contemporary international literature. Every month the group publishes 8 to 12 new works by international writers, including Nobel Prize laureates and new writers. To date, Words Without Borders has published more than 2,400 pieces from 132 countries and 112 languages. In 2014, it also began an education program that provides educators with resources to incorporate contemporary international literature into their classes.