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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


Client Served

Rating: 5

Students colored their ideas of a river and life in/around it. They designed it on envelopes and wrote stories in Spanish and/or English about what they learned. The 450 envelopes were streaming through the class upon completion and the students learned in art that the process was called an "installation." Suggestion:the website can post literature for parents to become involved so that the art and writing can be a home assignment.


Client Served

Rating: 5

The river of words nonprofit has inspired my 5th grade students to submit poetry and art for the River of Words yearly competition. Our local ESD 113 in Olympia, Washington has a local celebration and sends it's top placing poems to the National contest. It such a joy to see students share their feelings through poetry as they work hard to edit and revise for a perfect poem.


Client Served

Rating: 5

Mother Nature is our first and best teacher. She is not concerned with test scores or the latest fad in education. She is honest and authentic. River of Words, through their poetry and art initiatives, provides the platform for educators the world over to provide authentic education to their students. The arts are the most human endeavor we can engage in and education should be about developing humans not test takers. Helping our students discover that poetry hides everywhere from the whisper of the wind to the crevices etched by time and to be incite awe in Mother Natures's beauty is what River of Words is all about.