The Telling Room

Rating: 4.93 stars   14 reviews

Issues: Arts & Culture, Children & Youth

Location: 225 Commercial St Ste 201 Portland ME 04101 USA

Mission: The Telling Room is a nonprofit writing center in Portland, Maine dedicated to students ages 6 to 18. With the help of local writers, teachers, schools, and community organizations, we offer free creative writing and arts programs that give young writers confidence, strengthen their literacy skills, and create real audiences for their work.
Target demographics: We serve a diverse group of students aged 6-18 in the Greater Portland area that includes: children and young adults who are a part of Maine’s growing community of immigrants and refugees, students with emotional and behavioral challenges, students in alternative education programs, homeschoolers enthusiastic to join a creative community, and passionate young writers who want additional support and guidance.
Direct beneficiaries per year: 1,200
Programs: Since 2004, The Telling Room has offered programs designed to improve students’ literacy skills and powers of expression, which are vital to their future success. All of our programs give students a chance to work one-on-one with adult writers, educators, and artists. At our writing center in downtown Portland, we hold fun, innovative workshops, offer afterschool tutoring, and host storytelling field trips for school groups from all over Maine. We also lead workshops, at local schools and community organizations; bring acclaimed writers to Maine to give public readings and work in small groups with student and adult writers; publish bestselling anthologies of student work; and carry out community-wide storytelling projects. Research indicates that students who participate in arts programs like The Telling Room’s • Are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement • Can raise their grades by one letter in the course of a school year • Strengthen their problem-solving and critical thinking skills • Are two times less likely to engage in risky behaviors

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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

4 people found this review helpful

When I moved to Maine from Vermont about a year and a half ago, I was so excited to discover the Telling Room. Nothing quite like it exists in Vermont, that I know of. I've been a writer and an educator most of my life and I jumped at the chance to be involved in TR activities. My TR volunteer experiences have included encouraging immigrant teenage writers, homeschoolers, and after-schoolers in workshop topics ranging from ghost stories to food poetry to farming. I always come home inspired.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

seeing students expand and refine their ability to communicate through writing, especially kids who thought it would be too hard.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-2-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

Volunteering at the Telling Room is a great way to engage with the Greater Portland community, to encourage folks of all ages to write more, share more. The staff there are extremely dedicated, and the youth provide a wealth of new ideas and perspectives. Field trips, potlucks, workshops, master classes, open study hours -- there's always something fun in the works.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the SPACE Gallery, a local artspace where kids read their work aloud and presented visual art and multimedia work to accompany their writing. The whole event was a giant success, and the kids involved had a wonderful chance to shine.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-2-01

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Rating: 4 stars  

6 people found this review helpful

I volunteer my time at the Telling Room every chance I get, and have for more than four years. I love to help students find and write their stories and I love the magic that happens when they get to get up and read it. Each student grows an inch or two when the hear the audience's applause.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

helping students find their voice, an audience, support, encouragement and fun.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Compensate the hard working staff, and give them health insurance, buy a building to house an amazing story telling center, and a bus to service all of Maine!

Ways to make it better...

all the technology that we wanted to work always did.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-2-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

6 people found this review helpful

The joy for me comes from working with students as they learn to trust that I truly want to hear their stories. From that foundation of trust we collaborate to build the best version of their story we can. The witnessing and partnership in shaping a student's story is the magic behind the mission at the Telling Room. The result is a strengthening of each student's own believe not only that their stories matter, but that their lives matter.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

working with students to tell their story how they want to.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Hire me.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Watching students get into shaping their stories word by word.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Bigs hearts, good humor.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Witness stories of thousands of students that aren't so sure their lives matter.

Ways to make it better...

There were more volunteer opportunities stacked into a single day, as opposed to an hour and a half in the late morning.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Doing more long projects, eight week projects where students can really sink in. The challenge with one or two day projects is that students don't find a groove.

One thing I'd also say is that...

Keep it up Telling Room. I am proud to be associated with such a talented, committed bunch of people.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

8 people found this review helpful

The Telling Room is one of the most inspiring experiences offered to young writers and is equally inspiring to adults. I continue to be amazed every time I attend one of their functions and view, first hand, the braod array of talented young writers and performers. The energy at these events is like magic - electric! The smiles, the glances, the comments, and the crowds just tell it all. Bravo and kudos to the Telling Room! Lorraine Martin - Freeport ME

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My personal experience was also to have witnessed a Somali young man whose family I had assisted in relocating to Maine from the Katrina Disaster. I was moved to see how this young man had become involved in the Telling room to better his education.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-9-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

6 people found this review helpful

As someone who has only lived in Portland for a short time, I was thrilled to discover that our small city has such an exciting, high-quality literary arts center for youth. From star-studded readings with Elizabeth Gilbert for the whole community to the weekly one-on-one mentorship this organization provides to some of city's neediest youth, The Telling Room provides a valuable resource for our community.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

open a full-fledged literary arts center in the heart of downtown Portland with an array of exciting, life-changing programs for youth and adults alike.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

6 people found this review helpful

As a volunteer new to The Telling Room this year, I consider it a great privilege to participate in this group's programming. The TR staff does an outstanding job connecting with young people from such a range of backgrounds, meeting these kids where they are, empowering them to tell their own stories, all the while maintaining a fun, enthusiastic atmosphere. It's a place where kids learn to communicate without traditional structure, where supportive staff encourage creativity, but always with a goal...challenging students to think and define for themselves without giving way to negativity. Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of this group is their ability to maintain high quality, innovative, and ever evolving, up to date programming while maintaining awareness of the changing needs of the greater Portland community and of their target beneficiaries. The connection happens at The Telling Room, every day, and it’s been a pleasure to witness. -Kate Bradbury, Telling Room Volunteer

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

A one week intensive writing workshop working with students in an alternative education class at Deering High School. Over the week long course I watched the students open up to the idea of writing and communication in general. It was a great experience.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The positive, creative attitude from the staff and the example the set to the young people they work with.

Ways to make it better...

A challenge inherent in the group we were working with was inconsistency in the students school attendance. Perhaps we could have had even more of an impact with them if the workshop had extended longer than 1 week.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Funding, I would imagine, is always a challenge. The staff who are dedicated to this group are highly skilled, qualified and experienced. I hope that adequate funding continues to be able to support them and the costs of general operations.

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-2-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

7 people found this review helpful

As a lead teacher for various writing workshops I find the support of all of the volunteers in the room to be outstanding. Not only do individuals enter the space as volunteers, but they quickly take on the role of co-teacher with a healthy and respectful sense of give and take that is the foundation of any collaborative teaching. I always know that anyone who has made their way through the volunteer training is up to the task of supporting and encouraging students of all ages to be creative and to proudly say "I am a writer."

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Talking with teachers after I have led their students in a workshop and hearing them say how much their students enjoyed writing with us.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The opportunity to help students find their creative spirit.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

the kind of staff and volunteers you wish you could work with.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Establish a program that combined excellent professional development for area teachers and in school residencies designed by teachers and teaching artists for the purpose of meeting standards with a creative flair.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-2-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

6 people found this review helpful

I love mentoring with The Telling Room. Every week, during one of their in-school projects, I got to sit down with a Somali teenager and help her discover her voice. We worked on her literacy skills, and most delightfully, we got her story into one of The Telling Room's books, and now tons of people know her story! It was an incredible experience.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

How the staff just really gets kids--they approach them as peers and have this magical way of helping them open up and let their words flow. I love that they see all of us--themselves, the kids, the volunteering mentor/artists--as all on the same level.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-11-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

As an educator, homeschooler and writer, I heard many tales from The Telling Room before I had an opportunity to engage first hand. I was not disappointed. I attended a workshop for educators last weekend, actually ahead of my intent to bring my middle-school aged daughter and our home-schooling writers group down for a visit/class. My experience was delightful, and far beyond my prior experience with "teacher workshops." The event was thoughtfully organized, graciously hosted, and wonderfully stimulating, both professionally and personally. I am so impressed by the staff of the Telling Room and the breadth of experience of the attendees! It was truly remarkable. What a gem in the fields of education and writing.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my development of a writers' group for middle school-aged girls.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the professional exchange and development.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

top-notch.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

change the world.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-2-01

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