PLATINUM2024

AMERICAN WRITERS MUSEUM

Find Your Words

aka The American Writers Museum   |   Chicago, IL   |  www.americanwritersmuseum.org

Learn how to support this organization

Mission

The mission of the American Writers Museum is to excite audiences about the impact of American Writers - past, present and future - in shaping our collective histories, cultures, identities and daily lives. The American Writers Museum strives to: Educate the public about American writers – past and present; Engage visitors in exploring the many exciting worlds created by the spoken and written word; Enrich and deepen appreciation for good writing in all its forms; Motivate visitors to discover, or rediscover, a love of reading and writing; and Inspire the young writers of tomorrow Through innovative and dynamic state-of-the-art exhibitions, as well as compelling programming, the American Writers Museum educates, enriches, provokes, and inspires the public.

Notes from the nonprofit

We will be hosting the American Writers Festival in Chicago on May 19, 2024. Watch our website/social media for details!

Ruling year info

2010

President

Mr. Carey Cranston

Main address

180 North Michigan Avenue Suite 300

Chicago, IL 60601 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

27-1822749

NTEE code info

Museum & Museum Activities (A50)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2022, 2021 and 2020.
Register now

Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

America was founded on the written word, but no place in this country was celebrating and promoting the significance of writers and their work on our history and culture in the same way we celebrate sports figures or movie stars. Our founders saw this problem as an opportunity to create an immersive and interactive space that would celebrate great writers of the past, promote the amazing writers of today, and through those efforts, inspire the writers of tomorrow.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Write In Youth Education Program

The Write In Youth Education Program uses the museum’s fun, interactive exhibits, coupled with specially designed curriculum, to teach and inspire middle and high school students through a variety of in-person and online interactions. Through Write In, students experience the spectrum of American writing and the enduring relevance of great writing in all genres. In the 2022-2023 school year, Write In served about 33,000 students.

Population(s) Served

The AWM hosts contemporary authors in a variety of genres who speak to our audiences about their work, its themes, and the writing process. All author programs are videotaped and archived on YouTube for free anytime access.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of free participants on field trips

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Children, Preteens, Low-income people

Related Program

Write In Youth Education Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of paid participants on field trips

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Children, Preteens, Low-income people

Related Program

Write In Youth Education Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Total number of fields trips

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Children, Preteens, Low-income people

Related Program

Write In Youth Education Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

This museum has been designed as a celebratory and interactive space, with exhibits and programs that are meant to engage and excite our visitors. Rather than focus on the artifacts of the writers, our focus is on their words and their stories, looking at writing across all mediums and genres and presenting it in exciting ways that are visual, auditory, and tactile.

The American Writers Museum is unique in its conception, design, and execution. From the beginning, there was a recognition that a writers museum could not have a singular voice, so a team of experts worked together as content leaders and subject matter experts, with over 40 scholars, writers, poets, editors and others coming together to focus on the content. Beside these people were some of the best exhibit designers in the country, focused on creating a unique interactive space that allows people to explore and engage. The museum was designed to be interactive, with beautiful videos that explore the breadth and diversity of American writers and innovative touch screen exhibits full of content to areas for people to write and create, everything in this museum from its touchscreens to its typewriters allows visitors to engage, celebrate and learn.

While building a museum that visitors love is one thing, the American Writers Museum has an even deeper long term purpose, which is inspiring the writers of our future. Since we have opened we have built a vibrant youth education program called Write In that has served a total of 33,000 students in the 2022-23 school year, primarily from low income communities on the South and West sides of Chicago, exposing them to great writing and its power, and we have a plan to increase that impact in the years ahead.

The American Writers Museum provides visitors a first-of-its-kind opportunity to experience the works and the stories of writers, poets, songwriters, novelists, and journalists who have contributed to America's culture come to life in fully-immersive multimedia exhibits. The experience is bolstered by robust educational programming and a speaker series that brings writers from all over the country to Chicago. The American Writers Museum is neither a collection of books nor a definitive list of the greatest, most influential writers. Rather, our intent is to celebrate some of the country's prolific literary minds and invite guests to trace literature's impact on our identity, our culture, and daily lives. The fact that there was no museum focused on this in the country and none other like it to date, makes the American Writers Museum unique, and our impact in the community and the country shows that it is filled a needed space.

The AWM's strategic plan outlines goals for growth in several areas, with a particular focus on our Write In youth education program. We are executing an ambitious plan to expand this program with new curriculum, special events with authors just for students, and an expanded online presence that will allow students nationwide to take advantage of this program. Our focus with this program is on serving students in underserved communities, with their participation completely subsidized.

The AWM is located in downtown Chicago on Michigan Avenue, in the heart of the city's cultural corridor, and attracts many local visitors, out-of-town tourists, and schools groups. Our visitors include people of all ages, races, backgrounds, and income levels. The museum's strengths include: outstanding exhibits, an engaged and influential Board of Trustees, staff who are experienced and passionate about the AWM's mission, a strong reputation and brand, and a stable financial position. The museum opened in 2017 and that year was named first on Fodor's Travel list Inside the Worlds 10 Best New Museums. As of January 2024, the American Writers Museum is ranked #10 of all 795 things to do in Chicago on Tripadvisor,

The AWM has received grants and corporate support from major companies like BMO Harris Bank, Wintrust, Allstate, and Exelon, and support from Chicago foundations such as the Abra Prentice Foundation, the Brinson Foundation, the Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust, The Meijer Foundation, Negaunee Foundation, S&C Electric Company Fund at the Chicago Community Foundation, and the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation,

The AWM has also received government grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Library of Congress. We have partnered and worked with institutions across the city of Chicago including the Newberry Library, the Chicago Public Library, the Chicago History Museum, the Poetry Foundation, the Adler Planetarium and a host of others.

The American Writers Museum (AWM) opened in May, 2017 in downtown Chicago as the nations first and only museum to celebrate American writers. Exhibits feature writers from throughout our country's history, examining their work and their enduring relevance in ways that are modern, interactive, and fun. Public programs with award-winning and bestselling authors promote todays writing, and our Write In Youth Education Program uses the museums exhibits and specially-designed curriculum to teach and inspire middle and high school students where we will find the next generation of great American writers.

The AWM was created over seven years by founder Malcolm OHagan and a dedicated group of founding board members. The content of the exhibits was developed by an esteemed group of over 40 scholars, writers and other experts from around the country, who worked with some of the countrys top exhibit designers and fabricators.

The museum was designed to be interactive and fun, with beautiful videos that explore the breadth and diversity of American writers, innovative touchscreen exhibits full of content, and areas for people to write and create. Everything in the museum, from touchscreens to typewriters, encourages visitors to learn and be inspired. When the museum opened in 2017, it was named first on Fodor's Travel list "Inside the Worlds 10 Best New Museums," and is currently ranked #10 of all 795 things to do in Chicago on Tripadvisor,

The AWM's new strategic plan articulates our goals to grow the institution through the three pillars of delivering on our mission, strengthening our capacity, and growth in the areas of visitation and support.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We share the feedback we received with the people we serve, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome

Financials

AMERICAN WRITERS MUSEUM
lock

Unlock financial insights by subscribing to our monthly plan.

Subscribe

Unlock nonprofit financial insights that will help you make more informed decisions. Try our monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights?
Learn more about GuideStar Pro.

Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

AMERICAN WRITERS MUSEUM

Board of directors
as of 01/19/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms. Jane Irwin

S&C Electric Company

Term: 2021 - 2024

M. Hill Hammock

LaSalle Bank (ret)

Roberta Rubin

The Bookstall at Chestnut Court (ret)

Jane Irwin

Potash Corp. (ret)

Werner Hein

Mayer Brown, LLP

Jay Hammer

Theralogix

Marie Arana

Simon & Schuster/Harcourt Brace (ret)

Olivia Bedi

Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP

Allen Bulley III

Bulley & Andrews

Marion Cameron-Gray

Sipi Metals Corporation

Ellen Clark

Wilmette Library (ret)

Joan Clifford

Clifford Law Offices

Carolyn Curiel

Purdue University (ret)

Edith Falk

Campbell & Company (ret)

Ivan Kane

Mayer Brown LLP (ret)

Joanne Leedom-Ackerman

Author, Journalist

Catherine Mouly

University of Chicago/Columbia College (ret)

Grove Mower

Hummer Mower Associates

Richard Murphy

Wintrust

Dominique Raccah

Sourcebooks

Amanda Rutledge

Civic Leader

Michael Scodro

Mayer Brown, LLP

Larry Shulman

Arcline Investment Management

Carey Cranston

American Writers Museum

Patrick O'Hagan

Bain & Company

Romi Crawford

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Ann Bradley

Civic Leader

Sally Wood

Council for Economic Education

Ivy Wilson

Northwestern University

Elissa Efroymson

Civic Leader

Donna Van Eekeren

Civic Leader

Roxanne Decyk

Royal Dutch Shell (ret)

Debra Moritz

Bralaz Associates, LLC

Sonya Olds Som

Diversified Search Group

Michael Hora

Kearney Management Consultants

Jabari Asim

Emerson College

John Estey

S & C Electric Company

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/19/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 06/27/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.