River of Words

Rating: 5 stars   21 reviews


933 Parker Street Studio #38 Berkeley CA 94710 USA


River of Words (ROW) is aninterdisciplinary environmental poetry and art program that promotes literacy,the arts and environmental stewardship. River of Words is designed tonurture respect for and understanding of the natural world, to promote literacyin all its forms, and to build community partnerships. The organization aims tofoster place-based, local, interdisciplinary, hands-on education by promotinglocal knowledge of watersheds and the cultures they create; cultivating a senseof connection to place; encouraging action and imagination in young people; helpingthem acquire skills and practice in creating art and poetry; acknowledgingtheir creativity and concerns; and helping them to give back to their local,national and international communities through dissemination of their poetryand art.


In 15 years, we have trained thousands of educators in ways to incorporate nature exploration and the arts into their work with young people. We have nurtured tens of thousands of young people in kindergarten through 12th grade with curricula, publications, events, exhibitions, etc., helping them to become keen observers of the world around them, and giving them tools for creative expression of their observations. In 2004, River of Words was honored as one of the 100 most effective organizations in the country with an Innovations in Government Award from the Kennedy School at Harvard University.

Target demographics:

We seek to serve the world’s children and their teachers, particularly those with few resources.

Direct beneficiaries per year:

300 teachers trained by River of Words national headquarters staff, another 300-600 trained by our 30 state coordinators. 20,000+ student participants in our free annual poetry and art contest. 200-600 students participating in classroom workshops.

Geographic areas served:



Each year, in affiliation with The Library of Congress Center for the Book, River of Words conducts a free international poetry and art contest for youth on the theme of WATERSHEDS. The contest is designed to help youth explore the natural and cultural history of the place they live, and to express, through poetry and art, what they discover.

2010 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Reviews for River of Words

Rating: 5 stars  

I am a personal donor and a huge fan of the beautiful poetry that is the heart of ROW program. A chorus I sing with, WomenSing, partners with ROW. Our chorus commissions young composers to write music for the poetry and we connect the poet with the composers so they can have insight into each others creative process. The young poets have been remarkable in their observations, articulate and thoughtful. The chorus and its supporters have been enriched by observing the process and through their contact with ROW.

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

I have experienced their passion about the children, the environment, and their great generousity of time and follow-through while working with them on our project

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

Help them secure more stable and consistent funding

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Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

The artwork produced by children all over the world, some in very challenging circumstances, is an inspiration to all. It is of very high standard and shows great awareness of both the beauty of the environment and the problems which need to be addressed.

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

Art shows that I have attended in their gallery space. They are always inspiring.

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

intelligent and wonderful people

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

expand and in addition pay for fund children in dire circumstances submit their artwork to the competition.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


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