Finding magic in mentorship: How one CNN Hero inspired thousands of young women to write their own success stories

Keren Taylor, who began WriteGirl, an imaginative writing and mentoring program for teens in Los Angeles, has actually seen it direct.

“What we see is that young people have been slipping away. Many of them are not showing up at school, online,” stated Taylor, a 2014 CNN Hero.

When the pandemic hit, Taylor’s group moved all of their programs online in order to reach “the most teens, that are in the greatest need.”

“Many of our girls come from environments where they’re really struggling with unstable family situations, violence in their communities,” she stated.

With an objective to empower women through imagination and expression, WriteGirl provides individuals support, assistance and the tools to have their voices heard. Throughout the pandemic, mentees have actually continued their expedition of topics such as poetry, screenwriting, journalism and songwriting.

In a current workshop, singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb took lyrics that the women composed and turned them into tune.

Since 2001, CNN Hero Keren Taylor's WriteGirl program has helped thousands of teens find their voice.

The company in the last few years has actually broadened to consist of programs for young boys and coed groups and has actually clarified its meaning of women to consist of nonbinary and transgender youth.

“It’s teens that are at risk of slipping through the cracks,” Taylor stated of those she assists. “We bring them in and get them inspired … show them poetry, journaling, songwriting.”

After being laid off from a business job in 2001, Taylor utilized her severance cash to introduce WriteGirl. Ever since, the non-profit has actually grown from working with 30 women in a recreation center to serving more than 500 teenagers a year. Volunteers and coaches consist of reporters, film writers, authors, poets and executives.

“Our mentors work every week with teen girls online. And we do a lot of special events and readings, and a whole college program to help all of our girls go to college,” Taylor stated.

College is specifically essential now. In Los Angeles, where WriteGirl is headquartered, high school graduation rates have actually enhanced in the last few years. Taylor states ensuring teenagers remain on a college-bound trajectory is more vital than ever.

“Many of our girls do struggle with connectivity,” Taylor stated. “When we find out a girl is in need of a computer, we have been trying to raise the funds to purchase laptops, especially for our college-bound teens, where a laptop becomes critical.”

Amanda Gorman's journey to the inauguration and Super Bowl came with the help of a unique group of mentors

All the women in WriteGirl get individually mentoring to work on their writing, speaking abilities and academics. This, Taylor states, provides the self-confidence to speak out and connect for assistance in school, in their relationships and in your home. WriteGirl alums consist of reporters, authors, medical professionals, attorneys — numerous have master’s degrees and doctorates.

“It’s really exciting to see all the different things they’re doing in the world,” Taylor stated. “That they want to do work of meaning is really the most exciting thing for me.”

Previously this year, WriteGirl graduate Amanda Gorman provided her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at the inauguration of United States President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

“We are always encouraging our girls to share their own story,” Taylor stated. “Amanda is the only one that could put that particular story together, she put herself right in the middle of the poem. She shared it as herself.”

A group of WriteGirl volunteers, personnel and coaches collected for a virtual watch celebration to support Gorman when she took spotlight.

“When we saw her perform at the inauguration, we could see the same things that we really embody at WriteGirl represented in her,” Taylor stated. “Confidence. Being willing to really be present. What was really exciting to know was that she represents not only every girl that’s ever been in WriteGirl, but she also represents every young woman in this country.”

Wish to get included? Have a look at the WriteGirl site and see how to assist.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.