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2010 Top-Rated Nonprofit

River of Words

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Children & Youth, Environment, Environmental Education, Water, Water Resources, Wetlands Conservation & Management, Youth Development Programs

Mission: 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.

Results: 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: International

Programs: 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.

Donor & Volunteer Advisory

This organization's nonprofit status may have been revoked or it may have merged with another organization or ceased operations.

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Rating: 5

This is a great program to help these youngsters see the artist in there! Roll on river, roll on. I see poems form past participants other places now too.


Rating: 5

A committed and energetic crew supports River of Words. I had the wonderful opportunity to see how Pamela, Susan, and Louisa work tirelessly to help the organization remain active. No other organization works as hard to encourage children to make the connection between themselves and the rivers and wetlands surrounding their homes. The workshops they offer help introduce poetry and art to students in a time when these essential activities receive very little funding from local and national governments. I fear that without River of Words we might lose a generation of poets, artists, and environmentalists.



Rating: 5

Not for profit organizations are all about people, and ROW staff are at the top of their profession in caring about their mission and teaching the next generation environmental literacy. As a poet myself who has attended events at which ROW student poets read their work, I am impressed by their bravery and commitment, and strength which derives from the curriculum and the heartful nature of that curriculum.