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2015 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Loft, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Humanities

Mission: The Loft advances the artistic development of writers, fosters a thriving literary community, and inspires a passion for literature.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 10,000+

Programs: Creative writing education: the loft offers creative writing classes year-round at open book, at community sites throughout minnesota, and online. In fy14, the loft served 3,046 adults and 1,293 young creative writing students in over 420 classes and workshops and three conferences representing the broadest range of genres. In the past year's evaluation, 97% of students reported that their writing improved, 96% reported a greater understanding of the writing craft, 98% agreed that the class helped them identify their next steps as a writer. Poetry out loud - a recitation competition - offered students from 49 minnesota schools the opportunity to participate in literary learning opportunities and advance to a national competition.

awards, grants, and events: the loft provides mentorships, fellowship, and grants to support writers and their work. The loft mentor series awarded intensive artistic mentorships for 12 writers of demonstrated potential to work closely with nationally renowned writers. The mcknight artist fellowships for writers granted five $25,000 awards to buy accomplished writers the time to write. The minnesota emerging writers' grant program provided project funds of $2,300-$9,000 to help advance six writers' work. The spoken word community immersion fellowship provided grants to spoken word artists of color to engage in projects within communities that inspire their work. The authors' readings and performances helped develop audiences while promoting and advancing the work of individual writers. Community gatherings engaged both readers and writers in camaraderie and celebration of the written word. In the past year, 13,000 individuals attended more than 73 loft-sponsored readings, performances, and other literary events. Broadcasts and webcasts extended the loft's reach to another 779,000 individuals.

writing community and writers services: loft. Org, the loft's website, provided regular articles and fostered discussions about the writer's life and craft through our daily blog, the writers' block. There, writers found writing excercises, literary reviews, commentary, news, and discussion. The site also includes interviews, a calendar of loft readings and events, a catalog of loft classes, and writers' resources including information about writing groups, competitions, grants, awards, publishers, and agents. Visitors perused a variety of resources in the rachel anne gaschott ritchie small press library, 81 writers made use of the loft's writers' studios and more than 50 distinct literary groups used the loft's book club room this year.

Community Stories

50 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I've been a member of the Loft for 15+ years. The classes I've taken have been instrumental in improving my craft, and the connections I've made with other writers have been incredible. As I prepare for the publication of my first novel, there are so many Loft members, teachers and staff to thank. It is, literally, my community.

Client Served

Rating: 4

I got help through the Loft to launch my writing career mostly in the classroom and also at public readings. I actually read a couple of times myself. While it's been a long time since I've taken a class, I support the Loft because I want it to be there for the next generation of writers. I should say that I still attend readings because they are all so good.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Great classes for writers in an inspiring space! Plenty of options for all kinds of writing. I've enjoyed every class and instructor I've had.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Loft is an exceptional organization. Its classes, conferences, events, and grant opportunities sustain a vibrant writing community here in the Midwest. Writers of all ages (kids to seniors), experience (new comers to published authors), and interests (children's lit, memoir, sci-fi, non-fiction) find a home at The Loft. Twelve years ago, I signed up for my first Loft class. I learned about craft and met other aspiring authors - one of whom has become a best friend. And now, I have two books being published. Couldn't have done it without The Loft.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

There is nothing quite like the experience of stepping into The Loft. Whether you have arrived to take advantage of the charming writing studio spaces, to take a class or simply to chat with other writers in the cafe, you are immediately greeted with a welcoming and inspiring environment. In addition, the capable and friendly staff gives you the impression that they truly want you to succeed at whatever tasks your passions have inspired you to take on. The number of classes, writer groups, conferences, small groups and other opportunities that this organization offers is unparalleled in this area of the country. I only take precious time out of my life to write reviews that are worthy of that time... I am proud to take the time to speak to the heart of this particular organization and to urge others to give it their support.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have access close to home to top-notch writing classes and workshops, but my online class with the Loft is easily on par with any in-person class I have taken. Great instruction, class organization and design, feedback, and chat opportunies. Looking forward to future classes!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I joined the Loft so I could improve my writing. Even though I live three hours west of the Twin Cities, I've had the pleasure of taking two online classes, both on poetry. I had positive experiences with both my classes. One resulted in grant funding from the local arts council, and the other helped me place a poem for publication in a journal. Because of my income level, I've also received scholarships to help pay for classes. The Loft has definitely enabled me to become a contributing member of the literary community, on both the local and national levels. Thank You Loft!

Rachel149

Client Served

Rating: 5

My LOFT nature writing class was terrific! Loved the teacher

Client Served

Rating: 5

When I got out of my undergraduate program, I wanted to find a way to keep my passion for my writing alive and to find others who loved it, too. I am so lucky to have The Loft in my community. The classes are great, the people are amazing and their events are always so much fun. By attending classes, I was able to cultivate my writing and take the next step to grad school. This organization is truly awesome!

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Loft is awesome. I have taken classes, attended readings, applied for grants, rented a writing studio, and have been inspired by other writers I've met there. The people who work at the Loft care about supporting writers. They care that writers produce good work. They care that American writing demonstrates the huge diversity and talent in this country and in Minnesota. And they care about serving the diverse community around them. Without a doubt, the Loft is among the most amazing non-profits in the U.S.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I've been a member for over ten years, since winning a Mentorship one year out of college. The environment, opportunities, and culture of the organization is welcoming, dynamic, and very encouraging. I am grateful to The Loft for helping not just my writing, but for introducing me to artists like Claudia Rankine and Nick Flynn, and for hosting so many excellent community events. I'm a big fan.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Loft has great, free events to the public as well as high quality writing courses. I'm so glad I found it.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Without The Loft, I very much doubt I would have completed and published my memoir. I approached creative writing from a nontraditional standpoint with a background in journalism. Since I did not have a creative writing degree, I had to look for opportunities elsewhere. The Loft serves well the professional who has an interest in writing but does not have the time, energy, or resources to get a college degree in creative writing.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I owe my later-in-life writing career to the Loft. I was a person with a dream: a dream to write and publish fiction. The Loft provided superb instruction (from a host of talented and generous writers), programming, mentorships and grant opportunities. I've seen other beginning writers struggle in many settings and many ways, and I am certain I could not have developed and advanced my writing career the way I have without the help of the Loft.

This is the sequence of events, all Loft-mediated, which has brought me to a Spring 2014 short story publication in the literary magazine "Ploughshares," and collaboration on two novels-in-progress with a New York literary agency:
1. 2005 to present: Took classes offered at the Loft, from "Writing for the Absolute Beginner" (Fall, 2005) to a workshop with the esteemed Janet Burroway (Summer, 2014);
2. 2007-2008: Awarded Loft Emerging Writer Mentorship in Fiction; absolutely jump-started my fledgling fiction-writing career;
3. 2009 to present: Proposed and taught classes in beginning fiction writing at the Loft;
4. Awarded 2012-2013 Loft MN Emerging Writer Grant; used money for an online mentorship though the Loft;
5. Spring, 2014: Developed a website with the help of former Loft fellow-students and instructors, and started writing a blog. Please see one of my earliest posts, "Postcards From the Margins: Why I Love the Loft," April 21, 2014, http://www.donnatrump.org/page/5/ (scroll down to 4/21 entry).

I am grateful, every day, for the resources provided and the opportunities made possible by the Loft.

Previous Stories
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Client Served

Rating: 5

When I was 48 years old I decided it was "now or never" to try my hand at fiction writing. I took my first class at the Loft in September 2005--"Writing for Absolute Beginners," taught by Jorie Miller. Jorie said many encouraging things to all of her students, but it was her comment that my story-writing was "strong" that motivated me to keep going. In 2007-2008, I was awarded a Loft Emerging Writer Mentorship, during which time I had the unmatched pleasure of working with Sandy Benitez and Peter Ho Davies on an idea for a novel. Since that mentorship, I've published stories, essays and poems in a variety of journals. Now I'm working with Patricia Weaver Francisco in an online Loft mentorship, paid for by another Loft contest, the MN Emerging Writer grant, which I won this year. And that novel? Well, these things take time, but I've got an agent and 2013 sounds like a great year for a debut. None of any of this would have happened without the excellent teaching and remarkable guidance of many fine and talented people at the Loft Writing Center in Minneapolis.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

For the advancement of the writing arts you will find no better organization. The Loft truly works according to it's mission, it provides instruction and inspiration for writers of all abilities and backgrounds. It is constantly building and supporting the literary community in the Twin Cities. From their blog to their classes they do good work, offer quality products, and bring joy to the world.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Loft is a wonderful and necessary presence in the literary and community landscape of the Twin Cities. Through classes, readings, and grants to emerging writers, The Loft nourishes and sustains the creative spirit, encouraging writers of all ages to participate and grow.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Loft is a place that truly nurtures the writer's soul. I am so very grateful for this amazing organization, and for all of the opportunity and encouragement it has provided me and so many other aspiring writers. Thank you Loft! Thank you! Thank you!

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a member of The Loft Literary Center for over two years. I currently work in communications and have also worked in PR and advertising. The resources, networking opportunities, classes, and venue itself consistently impress me. I have truly enjoyed being able to support such an organization.

I have also just loved the fact that the classes ACTUALLY help my writing!! It's hard to find good writing classes for people who work in communications and have studied writing in school. I've taken some other writing classes at other places, and they helped a little, but not even close to what The Loft has provided me. I really appreciate the expertise held by the class instructors. It is impressive. I have also greatly appreciated that the instructors have pursued writing professionally so I felt their advice and lessons were credible (at least the instructors I've had were writers) and also made themselves available to the students during and after the class. The classes have also provided wonderful networking opportunities with other writers.

Lastly, I have found The Loft to be just a great community of writers. It's hard to find such a large community of talented writers, and I believe The Loft makes that available.

So, needless to say, I am a fan of The Loft...and yes, I proudly sport my tote bag. :)

Client Served

Rating: 5

Finding the Literary Loft is a dream come true! I have a life long passion for creative writing. When I looked at creative writing programs for my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I just could not financially justify pursuing the programs because I realized creative writing is very competitive and rarely pays well. So I made sure to pursue degree programs that lead to steady employment and I developed the philosophy that you really do not need any kind of class to be a writer. You just need to make the regular habit of reading and writing.

I still hold this philosophy that these are the habits that make someone a writer, but I also realized to be a great writer that I needed to have a teacher to guide me into directions I may not have thought about and that I needed a community that provided me with constructive criticism and support.
I have been a writer my whole life, but taking classes at the Literary Loft make me a better writer.
My teachers there have provided me with literature that expands my horizons and feedback on my writing that I really value!

While I have found that the classes that meet my needs best are not cheap, the Literary Loft has options to make this affordable. I took one class on a scholarship. I qualified for low income pricing when I started taking classes at the Literary Loft. The regular habit of taking classes at the Literary Loft are priceless because there are many other things that capture my attention around the Twin Cities. The space and the community that the Literary Loft provides me gives me a chance to make my writing a priority and to continue a life long journey into growth as a writer.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I retired from a career in advertising as a writer and Creative Director. I was use to a busy and demanding schedule and wondered what I would do with myself in retirement. I volunteered, I did some free lance .... and then I remembered the Loft. I had taken a few classes at the Loft over the many years I lived in the Twin Cities and I decided this might be the key to my sanity! And it was. For the past seven years, I've been a student ... of all things ... in poetry. But the real challenge and beginning of another passion came after a class with Linda Back McKay called "Writing your own chapbook." It was the first class of its kind at the Loft and in 2007 I self-published "Eclipsing the Gray." It was the best thing I have ever done for myself. Since that time, I continued to take classes and with Linda's expert eye to help with editing and placement, I have self published two more books and also published a book called, "The Poetry of Prayer" for my church, with poems written by the congregation. It was sold as a fund raising project. I've had poems published in various periodicals and sold dozens of my books. And this past school year, in a 5th grade class where I volunteer, I helped the children put together a chapbook as a memory of their last year in grade school. What fun! At 75, I'm proud of myself and the work I do. The teachers at the Loft are outstanding. The Loft is outstanding! And I could not have survived retirement without them. They keep my brain stimulated and my self-esteem strong. What an organization!