Arts, Culture, and Humanities

BRINK LITERACY PROJECT

Stories for Change

aka Tethered by Letters   |   Denver, CO   |  https://www.brinklit.org/

Mission

Brink Literacy Project is devoted to utilizing the power of storytelling to positively affect the lives of people on the brink. Through our education, community, and publishing divisions, our nonprofit works worldwide to foster a love of literature, increase literacy rates, and use storytelling to empower underserved communities.

Ruling year info

2012

CEO

Ms Dani Hedlund

COO

Ms Helen Maimaris

Main address

150 S. Harrison Street, Suite #101,

Denver, CO 80209 USA

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EIN

45-2793438

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Illiteracy figures are staggering. Lower proficiency in reading and writing skills has been linked to and impacts crime rates, negative educational experiences, increased teacher burnout and stress, and multiple other social factors. Brink Literacy Project is devoted to utilizing the power of storytelling to positively affect the lives of people on the brink, with a particular focus on delivering our initiatives to communities where the literacy deficit is having the greatest impact on society and tackling the issue from multiple angles.

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?

Frames Prison Program

The goal of the Frames Prison Program is to increase literacy rates, reduce recidivism, and use storytelling to empower incarcerated persons within the US prison system. Through our graphic memoir course, we work with individuals to develop their storytelling skills, promote literacy, spark critical thinking, and help them grow through self-reflection. By helping students to transform a single turning point in their lives into a short graphic memoir, this program seeks to: - Introduce storytelling as a means of positive self-expression - Engage learners in creative and flexible education that unlocks their boundless potential - Strengthen the reading and writing skills of each participant regardless of current proficiency - Empower inmates to reflect on their lives, assess important past decisions, and set positive goals for the future - Share student work within a safe group as well as with the greater community - Build students’ individual skillsets as they learn components of graphic design, writing, self-expression, analysis, and problem-solving skills that will help them achieve their own personal and economic goals - Revolutionize the way in which literacy is approached and taught, especially within low-literacy, underrepresented populations

Population(s) Served
Incarcerated people and formerly incarcerated people

Brink’s Youth Writing Program strives to make effective, engaging creative writing instruction accessible to all young people, particularly those whose voices may otherwise go unheard. We offer educators an original curriculum and exceptional support services to increase students’ literacy skills and help them fall in love with reading and writing. In creating accessible, relevant creative writing instruction for the young people who need it most, Brink’s Youth Writing Program has three goals: 1. To engage students with high-interest, project-based literacy activities that entice them to fall in love with reading and creative writing. 2. To solidify students’ motivation to pursue literacy activities by offering them relevant and authentic learning experiences, such as interacting with professional editors and publishing their work in local chapbooks, public readings, and online venues. 3. To increase students’ literacy skills by engaging them with relevant and timely themes, helping them to develop a wide variety of reading comprehension skills, and addressing key literary terms.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents (13-19 years)

Brink’s publishing internship program seeks to bring underrepresented and diverse voices into the publishing industry itself. Through our twelve-week program, interns learn the essential ins and outs of the industry and become crucial contributors to the positive social change Brink affects every day.

Population(s) Served
Adults

F(r)iction, Brink’s triannual literary journal, is at the heart of our mission to increase literacy rates and engagement with storytelling that pushes the boundaries of convention. Drawing together the best works from our education programs and submissions, we pull more than 50% of the content in each issue from our slush pile, working closely with authors to hone their work and arm them with the skills to succeed in the publishing industry. Each issue also features work from a community partner, spotlighting marginalized and underrepresented voices that are often ignored by the mainstream publishing industry. Partners include the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, Lambda Literary, and Veteran’s Writing Project. We also publish diverse talent, from debut authors to pioneering writers seeking to push the boundaries. Our celebrity writers range from international literary greats, such as Alasdair Gray, to trailblazers who are carving out a unique space in the literary field, such as Jeff VanderMeer. Along the way, we’ve published poetry by Kwame Dawes and Mary Ruefle, flash fiction from Kathy Fish and David Galef, prose by Christopher Moore and Kirsty Logan, and nonfiction by Lee Gutkind and Phillip Lopate. And if that wasn’t crazy enough, each issue also includes an original short comic and custom artwork to accompany every piece, creating a collection that is as visually engaging as the stories within.

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified

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 periodicals distributed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

F(r)iction

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Total annual number of units distributed of our triannual literary journal F(r)iction since its inception at the start of 2015.

Total number of works developed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

F(r)iction

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

The number of prose, poetry and graphic pieces we published each year via our literary journal or through our online publishing platform.

Total number of works commissioned

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

F(r)iction

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Number of original pieces of editorial artwork commissioned to accompany work published in our literary journal.

Number of favorable critic reviews/awards of art produced given by media or peers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

F(r)iction

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Number of reviews of F(r)iction plus awards received by the journal itself or our authors and artists for their work published in its pages.

Total number of classes offered

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

Incarcerated people and formerly incarcerated people

Related Program

Frames Prison Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Total number of classes offered of our Frames Prison Program in the Denver Women's Correctional Facility.

Number of free registrants to classes

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

Incarcerated people and formerly incarcerated people

Related Program

Frames Prison Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Total number of participants in our Frames Prison Program, all of whom participate free of charge.

Number of training workshops

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

In 2018, our senior editor team ran five series of workshops for our volunteer junior editors, to improve editing skills and offer them enhanced training and feedback.

Number of hours of training

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Hours of training time delivered by executive and leadership staff and received by volunteer base. (NOTE: This is a conservative estimation.)

Number of organizational partners

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Total number of organizational partners spanning: university, community organization, corporate and foundation partnerships.

Hours of volunteer service

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Total annual volunteer hours spanning volunteer editing, administration, and marketing services as well as volunteer web management and tech support.

Number of pro bono hours contributed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Total annual pro bono legal and accounting hours contributed.

Hours of expertise provided

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

F(r)iction

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Hours of free editorial guidance and mentorship offered to writers of all backgrounds.

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

EDUCATION: Create and deliver innovative education programs with a strong focus on delivering our initiatives to communities where the literacy deficit is having the greatest impact on society and tackling the issue from multiple angles. PUBLISHING: Provide a platform for voices that are otherwise often rejected by the mainstream publishing industry, reinvigorate the entire reading experience to attract new readers, create a paradigm shift in the industry. COMMUNITY: Forge a network of partnerships with other humanitarian and literary organizations to build expertise, collaboration, and opportunities to tackle social issues related to literacy and support underserved communities.

EDUCATION Use our education programs to actively target underserved communities. This means developing programs specifically for the empowerment of low-literacy, low-income, and marginalized populations. For example, studies show that inmates who engage in literacy programs are 50% less likely to reoffend. Thus, after two years of preparation, Brink began teaching a graphic memoir course in the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility in the fall of 2017. Using comics as a way to engage reluctant readers, Brink helps students transform a single turning point in their lives into a short graphic memoir. Through this prison program, Brink strives to empower these students to take a hard look at their lives, assess past decisions, and set positive goals for the future. PUBLISHING Through publication of F(r)iction, our triannual literary journal, we: mentor emerging writers, encourage experimentation and genre-melding, provide a platform for underrepresented voices, and breath new life into the literary journal industry. With a focus on unusual, emerging, and experimental work, F(r)iction provides a platform for voices that are otherwise often rejected by the mainstream publishing industry. Underpinned by a mentorship ethos—facilitated by close ties to Brink’s Free Editing Program—F(r)iction has quickly become a platform for launching new careers and providing a space for unusual and emerging work, such as debut authors, graphic literature, and speculative content. Further, with the readership for literary journals dwindling every day, we want to breathe new life into the publishing industry by reinvigorating the entire reading experience. We commission custom, full-color illustrations for every piece published, creating a visual experience that is as stunning as the literature within. In addition, we publish a graphic short story in each issue, championing this medium as a serious and beautiful storytelling form. By publishing work from unique and unusual authors and artists, opening up the literary-journal experience to a wider readership, and showing that genre and experimental storytelling can be just as powerful as traditional literary work, we believe we can rejuvenate the industry. COMMUNITY Through our Community division, Brink has forged a network of partnerships with other humanitarian and literary organizations. In collaboration with these partners, we create innovative curriculum, build research teams, and offer hands-on teaching, editing, and outreach experience across the globe. Through F(r)iction, we spotlight work from community partners such as the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, Veterans Writing Project, Lambda Literary, PEN America, Words Without Walls, Writers Without Margins, and other phenomenal humanitarian programs, providing a platform for marginalized and underrepresented voices and highlighting individuals who write as a way to cope with difficult situations.

STAFF TEAM Brink is run by a dynamic team of experts and industry leaders, bringing together decades of diverse experience in education, literacy, writing, editing, publishing, and prison reform. Through dedicated departmental teams, we develop programs, launch initiatives, grow our publication's distribution and industry impact, and forge new partnerships. ADVISORS Brink is supported by a number of advisors and consultants who offer their expertise, advise, and experience to help us develop programs and make key structural, financial, and steering decisions. COMMUNITY SUPPORT Brink has developed a wide network of partnerships that offer varied skill sets, perspectives, and collaboration opportunities. These include partnering with: universities to develop research teams, other nonprofit organizations to spotlight work from marginalized communities and collaborate on curriculum, and corporations and companies that offer high-level advice and expertise.

GOALING The organization is structured around a “goaling” workflow, to ensure that annual deliverables relating to its charitable purposes guide workflow and performance monitoring occurs. This system includes: • Goals set annually, proposed by the Executives, approved and modified by the Trustees, and enacted by the staff team of the charity • Quarterly reviews of these goals by the Board and Executives • Quarterly reports linked to these goals as delivered by the Leadership team to the Executive team and thus upward to the Trustees • Biannual staff reviews of the Leadership staff by the Executives to assess the achievement of these goals • These same staff reviews also focus on guiding and tracking individual staff goals so that they feel valued as individuals within their work • Annual series of anonymous surveys for the staff team, to facilitate a process of upwards feedback GATHERING DATA In order to improve our educations programs, and track and measure impact, we gathering data sets and testimonies from all our educational programs. Further, we are in the process of developing a research team to specifically work with our prison literacy and storytelling program, to measure not only the program's impact on the individuals and those around them, but to also gather data for longer term aims, such as informing prison reform. REVIEWING At regular intervals, we use a reviewing process for all our education programs. This includes gathering together different personnel (both internal and external) who have contributed or worked with the program to go over its progress, impact, data gathered, and personal experiences, in order to guide further development.

In 2018 alone we taught 4 courses of our Frames Prison Program to 52 students at the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility. We printed 3 journals, publishing 53 writers from 7 countries and 16 states. We launched a new education initiative for low-literacy youth, a beautiful new website for our nonprofit, and began development for a teacher storytelling program. This year we aim to: - Launch our teaching storytelling program, through which we seek to inspire teachers to realize their full potential and celebrate their everyday heroism through the act of telling their own story - Expand our Frames Prison Program into 2 more prisons in Colorado through a peer-to-peer training system developed and launched in collaboration with the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver - Take our prison program internationally, launching it in the Scottish Prison System in summer 2019 - Grow our subscriber base for our journal, F(r)iction, through the launch of a new website and the use of innovative marketing techniques such as a Kickstarter campaign - Following extensive trials of our Youth Writing program over the last eighteen months, we aim to launch several flagship courses in high schools in Colorado and Ohio by the end of 2019

Financials

BRINK LITERACY PROJECT
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Operations

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

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BRINK LITERACY PROJECT

Board of directors
as of 3/15/2019
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms Dani Hedlund

Jon Schindehette

Jennifer Leong

Suzanne Hickox

Ian Leprino

Keywords

advocacy, education, literacy, storytelling, youth, prison reform, literature