The Greater Kansas City Writing Project continually reflects upon itself and its work through the lenses of Access, Relevance, and Diversity. A major resource for this reflection is the Project Outreach Network, a national community of writing projects who support resource development and program activities to enhance the capacity of local sites to understand and address issues of equity in their local programming.
GKCWP initiated its self-reflection during the 2004-05 school year in a series of dialogues, assisted by critical friends from the National Writing Project, and focusing on the relevance of our work to the people we serve, the access of those people to our work as writers and teachers of writing, and to the diversity of our organizational structure and decision-making.
During the first year, 2005-2006, we found that the majority of communities impacted by poverty lived within the core of the metropolitan area and within the school districts represented in the urban core, over 80% of students live in poverty. However, our programs seldom served those areas, our leadership rarely represent those areas, and our thinking and planning had not proportionately or equitably opened to those areas.
In year two of Project Outreach, 2006-2007, we focused on making the heart of our program, the Summer Institute in-self, more accessible, relevant, and diverse. By the summer of 2008, our site had more than doubled the number of participants from rural and urban school districts. We had doubled the percent of teachers who participate in GKCWP after their initial experience in the Summer Institute, and we had more than doubled the number of content area disciplines involved in the writing institute.
We use a collaborative decision-making process as teams of teacher-consultants work together to bring more diverse programs and more creative ways of thinking to the future of GKCWP.
Thomas Ferrel, Co-Director
Project Outreach Network Coordinator