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.