Writers in the Schools

Houston, TX   |  www.witshouston.org

Mission

Founded in 1983, the mission of Writers in the Schools (WITS) is to engage children in the joy and power of reading and writing. WITS was founded through the University of Houston's renowned creative writing program to bring some of our nation's most talented writers into school and community classrooms to make a meaningful impact on the lives of children. The WITS program is an effective force for educational change, integrating arts and education to ignite a love of learning in more than 400,000 children and their teachers since its founding. WITS leads an international movement for creative learning, helping children and teachers across the world explore literacy in creative ways.

Ruling year info

1991

Principal Officer

Dr. Robin Reagler

Main address

1523 West Main

Houston, TX 77006 USA

Show more addresses

EIN

76-0338549

NTEE code info

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

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 2019, 2018 and 2017.
Register now

Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

This profile needs more info.

If it is your nonprofit, add a problem overview.

Login and update

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?

Teaching Students: Inspiring Children through Arts Education

WITS sends some of our nation's most enthusiastic writers into schools to offer thousands of students from diverse backgrounds a year-long literary arts education. Creative writing instruction introduces children to a world of literature, reading, and lifelong learning, inspiring self-expression and confidence. WITS provides children with a fun, creative environment in which to explore their imaginations and better understand themselves and the writing process. Most recently, WITS implemented a new digital program, fusing creative writing and STEAM-powered game design, helping students become creators rather than consumers of media. Children emerge from the WITS program confident, inspired, and excited.

Population(s) Served

WITS training, ongoing professional development, and job-embedded coaching help teachers employ teaching methods effectively in the classroom, benefiting existing and future students. Classroom teachers are an integral part of the WITS program. Collaboratively, WITS writers plan lessons, address specific classroom and individual student needs, and focus on areas of underperformance in the language arts. The WITS program promotes an active learning environment for engaging students in literacy.

Population(s) Served

Replicating its success in Houston, WITS leads an international movement for creative education through the WITS Alliance, a consortium of 32 writers-in-the-schools organizations that indirectly benefits 100,000 children annually. It is through this program that Writers in the Schools lends its expertise to help build a network of similarly high-quality programs throughout the United States and abroad. WITS Alliance is a professional mentorship program that has been dedicated to building the capacity and quality of national literary arts programs for 25 years. There is already a strong presence for this group at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference. On an administrative level, Writers in the Schools serves as the head organization for WITS Alliance; however, leadership and decision-making is shared.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Accreditations

Better Business Bureau - Standards for Charity Accountability 2004

Awards

Trail Blazer Award 2004

Texas Commission on the Arts

Award of Distinction for Nonprofit Excellence 2011

Better Business Bureau

Community Improvement Award 2014

Museum District Business Association

Jamail Innovation Award 2016

City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance

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.

Working primarily with low-income students, the main goal of WITS is to help close gaps in achievement and opportunity through enhanced literacy and creativity skills. This type of learning results in confident students who perform better academically.

Children and youth who participate in WITS receive high-quality learning, helping close the achievement and opportunity gap. WITS provides long-term creative writing workshops, integrated professional development for classroom teachers, practice and proficiency with the writing process, a private writing tour of an inspiring cultural venue, publishing and sharing original writing in classroom anthologies, and performing at readings and other community events.

For 32 years, WITS has revolutionized the way reading and writing are taught. WITS has ten (10) highly qualified administrative staff members , employs 190 educators and teachers, and uses approximately 120 volunteers annually, including interns, board volunteers, and event volunteers. The 190 part-time educators are classroom teachers and professional writers: novelists, poets, playwrights, and essayists with extensive teaching experience. Many are bilingual, have graduate degrees, and are published authors.

Collaboration is also fundamental to WITS’ success. In addition to partnering with local independent school districts, we work with a variety of institutions including the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, the Menil Collection, Museum of Fine Arts-Houston, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston Public Library, Discovery Green Conservancy, Houston Grand Opera, Society for the Performing Arts, and Alley Theatre. Replicating its success in Houston, WITS leads an international movement for creative education through the WITS Alliance, a consortium of 31 writers-in-the-schools organizations that indirectly benefits 100,000 children and teachers annually.

RAISING READING AND WRITING TEST SCORES – Dr. Scott, the leader of our third-party evaluation, assesses students’ knowledge and skills development through the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) standardized test. In order to compare WITS students’ test scores to those who did not participate in WITS, Dr. Scott collects test scores from a representative group of WITS students as well as a control group sharing similar demographics. Dr. Scott then compares and assesses the impact of the WITS program on those students’ reading and writing scores, finding that students enrolled in WITS consistently outperform non-WITS students.

IMPROVING WRITING SKILLS – Dr. Scott has found that students who complete the WITS program consistently demonstrate improved writing skills. By analyzing changes in writing samples from pre- and post-essays, both elementary and middle school students showed improved abilities.

ENHANCING CREATIVITY – The WITS program increases creativity levels in children. Expert raters independently score student pre- and post-essays with a rating system developed by Dr. Scott, examining such things as: effectiveness of expression, risk-taking, powerful voice, originality, unusual logical order, and lively details. Analysis of the data by Dr. Scott determined that the ratings were reliable and that the change in student ability demonstrated an impact on creativity levels.

IMPROVING SELF-EFFICACY– WITS students demonstrate increased confidence in their writing abilities. WITS measures the impact of the program on students’ writing apprehension and attitude by administering pre- and post-essays to a representative group of students. Evaluations have shown that the program positively impacts students’ writing self-efficacy, and the scores from 2004 to the present indicate that WITS students are more confident writers.

While WITS is proud of its many accomplishments and its ability to reach 28,000 Houston teachers and children each year, we still have many low-income schools on a waitlist and many underserved children waiting for the WITS program in their classrooms. In order to meet this need, WITS is the process of developing a new three-year strategic plan that will drive this expansion in schools, camps, community workshops, public performances, and national network initiatives. WITS is also developing revenue streams to support this growth and ensure participation from underserved communities and low-income schools.

Financials

Writers in the Schools
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.

Writers in the Schools

Board of directors
as of 6/26/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Lucy Chambers

Beth Bernal

Shell

Lucy Chambers

Bright Sky Press

Mark Cueva

City of Houston

Kelley Edwards

Littler Mendelson

MaryScott Hagle

Dawn Mountain Tibetan Buddhist Temple

Juni Langham

Baylor College of Medicine

Bryn Larsen

Foto Relevance, LLC

Lizzie Pannill Fletcher

Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing

Rick Snyder

Noble Energy

Giuseppe Taurino

University of Houston Creative Writing Program

Richard Hess

Susman Godfrey, LLP

Marcia Nichols

Community Volunteer

Grace Rodriguez

Station Houston

Garrick Malone

BP

Josephine Rice

Houston Association of School Administrators

Mitra Woody

Attorney

Shannon Buggs

CultureWorks

Maria Lahad

Plains All American

Angie Lutz

Allen Boone Humphries Robinson LLP

Roberto Tejada

University of Houston Creative Writing Program

Tommer Yoked

Sidley Austin LLP

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