Jayeesha Dutta wrote -
Support Big Class's next chapter, including the construction of New Orleans's youth writing center and foundational support for our next three years of programs, by donating as an individual or fundraising as a team. Donations over $100 will be featured as part of our Founders' Circle. Additionally, 826 National has awarded us a $100,000 Challenge Grant to pursue our goals. So, for every dollar we raise between now and October 1, 826 will match it. When Big Class began nearly five years ago, it was a single class project, featuring 43 students who made a book with volunteer artists sending in work from around the country. It was also a dream shared by dedicated volunteers and early funders, of creating an organization that offers space, choice, and time for young people to develop their individual voices. It is truly exceptional what we have been able to accomplish together in five years. From that one class at Lincoln Elementary in Marrero, we’ve grown to work with over 2000 students in Greater New Orleans through the help of over 300 volunteers. In the last five years, we’ve worked in 16 different schools, opened The Big Class Studio in Press Street Headquarters and the Big Class Writers’ Room at Sylvanie Williams Elementary, hosted workshops at libraries and museums, and held readings at theaters and book stores. Our students have published over 50 books ranging from illustrated story collections, to bilingual comic anthologies, to letters to America. They have also published poetry on pizza boxes, built houses of stories, made movies, taken photographs, and created paintings inspired by jazz and Basquiat. And we’re just getting started. In September 2014, Big Class was accepted into Chapter Development with 826 National, a network of youth writing nonprofits that has inspired us since day one. And in January of this year we became our own 501c3 non-profit. Both designations have been huge catalysts for growth, setting our Seed, Grow, Thrive plan into motion, which includes the construction of our youth writing center (including a unique retail component), the development of our high school newspaper and youth poetry festival programs, an ambitious field trip program, and much more. To support this work, we are working to raise $100,000 in donations through the end of 2015. Every donation over $100 through the end of the year, either from an individual or a team, will be acknowledged as a Founders’ Circle contribution, acknowledged on our web site and at our new youth writing center. Additionally, 826 National has awarded us a $100,000 Challenge Grant to pursue these goals. So, for every dollar we raise between now and October 1, 826 will match it. In celebration of everything that we have done and all the exciting things that are on the horizon for Big Class, we hope you'll support our next chapter by starting your own fundraiser or donating. We need our community to come together to make this vision for New Orleans' young writers a reality.