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Amplifying the Voices of Durham Youth

By Austin Evans

Durham’s literary future is looking brighter than ever with the advent of Durham Mighty Pen, a new organization dedicated to providing programs for children and adolescents centered on creative writing, publishing, and tutoring.

According to its website, the organization exists “because [we] believe critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills—cultivated seamlessly and with unparalleled effectiveness in creative writing contexts—are necessary in building confidence, opportunity, and community.”

The vision of Durham Mighty Pen is “a vibrantly diverse Durham in which every student has equal access to academic achievement, and acknowledges that ‘students armed with the power of words and creativity can engage their communities as agents of change, and break the cycle of poverty and marginalization from the inside out.'”

Durham Mighty Pen recently completed its inaugural program, “The Short of It,” a six-week collaborative short-story workshop created by Programming Director Matthew Arnold for students grades 6-8. The program was held on Tuesday nights from 6:00-7:00 pm at the Emily Krzyzewski Center at 904 W. Chapel Hill Street in Durham. The workshop culminated in the release of a collection of students’ workshop pieces on Sunday, May 17, as part of the Read Local Festival at Durham Central Park.

While Durham Mighty Pen will partner with local businesses and organizations around town to find accommodations for programming, an hour-long in-school program is currently being designed to help students become great peer editors. So, if you are a local classroom teacher, Durham Mighty Pen would love to be invited into your classroom to offer this unique opportunity to your students!

Future programming is still in the works, and Durham Mighty Pen is seeking volunteers and donors to help grow Durham’s first program explicitly committed to bringing high quality creative writing and publishing experience to underserved youth. There is a list of current volunteer openings, as well as a nice donation page that details exactly how your money will help amplify the creative voices of Durham’s youth. The organization has not yet acquired 501(c)(3) status, however, so you will have to contact Durham Mighty Pen directly with regards to making your donations tax deductible.

More information can be found at