Philadelphia-based Mighty Writers is about to open its first location in New Jersey.
The new location will be at the Nick Virgilio Writers House in Camden. It will begin by holding one-day workshops during the summer, then transition to Mighty Writers' traditional programs once the school year begins. The Camden center, at 1801 Broadway, will also offer bilingual classes for Spanish speakers.
"We've had numerous requests over the years to bring our programs to Camden," Mighty Writers founder and executive director Tim Whitaker said in a statement. "We think of Camden as a blood brother to Philly, and we can't wait to meet the city's kids."
Mighty Writers holds free short- and long-term writing workshops for children to "teach Philadelphia kids to think and write with clarity so they can achieve success at school, at work, and in life," according to its website.
Although Mighty Writers has been expanding, Whitaker said he does not plan to take the organization outside the Philadelphia area.
Other locations are in North Philadelphia, Bella Vista, North Central Philadelphia, Southwest Center City, and Powelton. Workshops include educational activities that encourage students to engage with the topics they write about. The "For the Love of Cheesesteaks" camp, for instance, teaches students Philadelphia history and culture through blog and brochure writing, and other camps have attendees develop personal portfolios and mobile-app proposals to help them prepare for life as adults.
Mighty Writers also has an "on the road" service that hosts workshops at other locations by request.
These workshops have helped students academically, according to the organization. Seventy-four percent of Mighty Writers students achieve grade-level proficiency in writing, while Philadelphia's average is 40 percent, the group said.
The organization was founded in 2009 by Whitaker using a grant from the Lenfest Foundation. Today, about 60 percent of Mighty Writers' funding comes from various foundations, with the majority of the rest coming from individual and corporate donations.