Our mission is to facilitate culturally responsive, multidisciplinary art programs for students, teaching artists, and communities to develop and amplify their voices and creative skills.

Community-Word Project, founded in 1997 by Executive Director Michele Kotler, uses creative writing and multidisciplinary arts as a necessary element of public school education to ensure that young people have the chance to envision, invest in, and build a community different from the one failing to meet their needs.

Inspiration to establish Community-Word Project stemmed, in part, from Michele’s experience growing up with an undiagnosed learning disability in a low-income neighborhood. Budget cuts had virtually eliminated arts education in public schools and she found the teaching methods she encountered alienating.

Michele’s 6th-grade classroom teacher, who was also a drummer, taught curriculum by integrating music into the classroom. The experience was transformational for her, and for other non-traditional learners. They were being taught in a way they could learn. The arts provided a point of entry into the curriculum.

Inspired by her experience, Michele and the Community-Word Project team have built an organization committed to expanding interdisciplinary arts education; to helping students express themselves; to supporting artists in learning to teach; and to forging creative partnerships across disciplines. 

The heart of Community-Word Project’s activities is the empowerment of students’ voices through the creative arts in schools, libraries, and transitional housing locations. Community-Word Project operates in NYC neighborhoods where 70% of residents live in poverty and students struggle with the effects of underinvested schools; the linguistic challenges that come with recent immigration; and inequities in physical and mental health resources that severely impact their focus and ability to learn.

Vision and Values

Vision Statement

We envision a world where all artists and learners work together to recognize and celebrate the power of their creative voices to manifest a more equitable future.

Intentional Collaboration

We support collaborative exchanges of ideas through learning and teaching, honoring each others’ lived experiences, talents, and communities.

Inclusion & Accessibility

We respect and value the diversity of perspectives, learning styles, abilities, artforms, and cultural backgrounds.

Creative Expression

We celebrate creativity in everything we do. We believe that no matter the age, ability or experience, we all have an innate capacity for creative expression.


Power of Voice

We believe in the power of individual and collective voice and the confidence and agency that grows through creative artistry.


Radical Love

Our work is a practice in love and joy, for ourselves and for one another. It is what motivates us to create.


Meet the members of our passionate and dedicated community of Staff, Teaching Artists, Board of Directors, and Associate Board of Directors.
CWP Staff in from of entrance to MoMA PS1
Teaching Artist Project participant in profile raises her hand for recognition in classroom.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Community-Word Project commits to learning and engaging in work that disrupts and roots out systems and structures that perpetuate racial inequities and oppression.


Community-Word Project Programs are made possible through the support of a diverse roster of Foundations; National, State, and Local Government Agencies; and Corporate Partners.


Community-Word Project values intentional collaboration and engages with community partners to scale impact through shared expertise, generational wisdom, and professional resources.

The program gave me so many skills to bring into my classroom and I felt it made me a greater asset to my students. I felt very confident in my ability to develop and reach students further and place more Justice or items learning in my lessons.

Alexis Robinson

TAIR 2021-2022

I felt reassured that I have been taking the proper steps towards my creative process and teaching.

Jessica Pereyra

TAIR 2022-2023

I would have to say one of my favorite moments today is entering the classroom again. Everyone wants to be in school right now, be together again, and enjoy each other's company.

Kym Boyce-Lazar

Teaching Artist

Woman women sitting on a swing hanging from tree branch inside hanging white fabric

I get to work with students on what is present for them in that moment, build their sense of who they are and what they stand for, and help hone their ability to express all of that through language and art.

Libby Mislan

Teaching Artist

adult white woman outdoors with a broad smile

The Teaching Artist field needs more caring, deep-thinking organizations like Community-Word Project! I feel honored to be a part of it. It feeds my soul and helps me grow as a human on planet earth.

Moira-Jo Trachtenberg-Thielking

Teaching Artist

Your Voice is Powerful!

Make a life-changing donation today. Your gift will directly impact the lives of over 2,200 NYC students and 60 Teaching Artist trainees this year.