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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

31 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

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.

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
1

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.

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!

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!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I attended a beginning writers' session that was conducted as a joint effort between The Loft and Hennepin County Library. Through this partnership, The Loft brings talented instructors to small community libraries. There, they teach classes in places people might not otherwise have access to such opportunities. The session I attended was free, and it was really beneficial. The instructor led us in a series of writing and brainstorming exercises in manner that felt safe and nonthreatening. For the first time in a long time, I read aloud to strangers words I had written. That was a pretty big step for me. I left feeling empowered and motivated to pursue my dreams of fiction writing.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I can't believe more people don't know about this organization!! I only recently realized (five years out of college) that I really love creative writing, so when I decided I wanted to take continuing education courses in it, I ended up doing so through a variety of institutions, including notable universities. So I have more than my fair share of places with which to compare it. Not only does the Loft offer high-quality writing classes, but it does so at a remarkably (or should I say ridiculously?) low rate and with an astounding array of subjects. You could take a course that lasts several months or you could come in for a one-time class on the one weekend you have available. You could take classes online or you could take them in-person. There's also the fact that the Loft then offers all kinds of other opportunities for writers, like contests and awards, free readings, publicity, networking events...seriously, the list goes on.

Sometimes it feels like everyone (and their mom) is a wannabe-writer, but writers are still part of an underserved community. So, truthfully, I cannot say enough good things about this place. They help writers. As simple as that.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Loft provides education, encouragement, and community to local writers in the Twin Cities and those around the world via its online classes. I'm a better writer thanks to the classes and instructors at the Loft.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I found a writing community at the Loft by attending classes, specialized workshops, the annual children's literature conference, and by applying for award opportunities. While meeting with my critique group, I've seen many field trips of wide-eyed children pass through on the way to writing or bookmaking activities. The Twin Cities area is richer for having this literary center for writers of all ages and abilities.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Loft has given me a physical space, a community, and confidence--all of which I've had in short supply. I've tucked myself into quiet corners to write. I've sat through readings by local and nationally known writers. This year I've been chosen as a mentee for an emerging writers competition. (Jarod Santek is the logistical genius that handles the support on many levels.) Through the mentor program I'll work with local and national writing mentors, receive reading and conference information, grant writing advice, and more. Not only do I feel validated to continue to work with words, I'm filled with a gratitude that makes me want to return the generosity. The Loft doesn't just train and empower writers, it must certainly create mentors. I don't think it's overstating to say The Loft is the reason Minnesota has such thriving and giving literary community. If you believe James Baldwin that, “You write in order to change the world ...” than it's fair to say the Loft is changing my life and countless others.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Without the supportive environment, classes, and programs at the Loft, I would have never had the courage to choose writing as my profession. I wanted to be a writer from the time I was five, but once I graduated from college, I abandoned that because I thought I could never make it financially. When I had my first child and decided to stay home, I realized that that was the moment to try my hand at writing. I took a few classes at the Loft and continued to work on my writing. When my child was old enough to go school, I was reviewing law school applications when the phone rang. It was like something from a movie -- I was told by a Loft administrator that I had won an award that allowed me to study for one year with 6 nationally-renowned authors (The Loft Mentor Series). During that year, I wrote my first novel, SPLIT. I revised it the following year and it sold at auction in three weeks and has received a number of honors and awards. My career path really started at the Loft. The Loft was also the first place that provided me the opportunity to teach creative writing and I am now a professor of creative writing. It is an exceptional organization and I consider it one of the most important factor in why Minneapolis is a center for the literary arts and why I am a writer.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Loft has been a central place for community, camaraderie, and inspiration. I've enjoyed hearing authors, established and emerging, read from their work. I've listened to works of prose and poetry that have been poignant and full of energy. Most of all, I've met wonderful teachers and peers at this central gathering place for artistic expression. I've been challenged. I've grown. I've been encouraged. My own writing has improved via classes and blossomed in a 9-month program, The Loft Mentor Series. The Loft has also been a source for connecting me with others.