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The Telling Room

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Children & Youth, Printing & Publishing, Youth Development Programs

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

Community Stories

14 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 4

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.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

8

Donor

Rating: 5

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

6

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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

7

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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."

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.

6

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter loves it here. We have been unable to find a place that will support her writing & storytelling around where we live. We have to travel an hour to get to the Telling Room but well worth it. The staff is so helpful, and welcoming! The Telling Room is an important place for young writers & storytellers because there is not many places around that can relate to young writers and what kind of space they need to accomplish their writings. The program is put together very well, the Telling Room enlists the help of young writers to help with their programs. The Telling Room is truly a organization that deserves kudos for their conitnued support to the arts community.

8

Board Member

Rating: 5

I've been involved with The Telling Room since its creation almost six years ago. From the first workshop they ever held (in the furnace room of the basement at a local public school) to today's programming that reaches over 1,000 Maine kids in a year, this organization has never lost its smart groove or its ability to connect to that sparkly little devil that lives inside all kids: unapologetic creativity. We all have a story, but here in Portland, Maine, it's The Telling Room that celebrates what we have to say and teaches us how to say it better. The world needs a lot more Telling Rooms.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a homeschooling family it is a constant struggle to find quality programs with a strong educational value while incorporating fun and hands on learning. Typically when you do find a program that meets all of the above requirements, it comes with a big price tag. I was thrilled to find the Telling Room! Since homeschooler do not get any tax write offs nor do we get any government funding, it is a costly endeavor to homeschool, especially with multiple children. The Telling Room is an invaluable resource for our family.

5

Client Served

Rating: 5

My 10-year old son benefited greatly from his poetry class at the Telling Room. He already excels in sports; and this wonderfully designed program at the Telling Room helped him unleash his creative self in a supportive setting. Extremely professional staff and guest poet/instructor.