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Writers Without Margins Inc.

 3 Concord Avenue
 Cambridge, MA 02138
[P] (310) 7702749
[F] --
www.writerswithoutmargins.org
[email protected]
Cheryl Buchanan
Facebook
INCORPORATED: 2015
 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 47-4399954

LAST UPDATED: 12/07/2018
Organization DBA Writers Without Margins, Inc.
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No

Summary

Mission StatementMORE »

Dedicated to the fusion of art and advocacy, we take literature beyond conventional spaces. Our mission is to expand access to the literary arts for unheard and under-resourced communities in Greater Boston — including those isolated by the challenges of addiction recovery, trauma, poverty, disability, and mental illness — through free, collaborative, writing workshops, public readings, and publication opportunities intended to empower community, amplify the voices of individuals, and to share stories with the world.

Mission Statement

Dedicated to the fusion of art and advocacy, we take literature beyond conventional spaces. Our mission is to expand access to the literary arts for unheard and under-resourced communities in Greater Boston — including those isolated by the challenges of addiction recovery, trauma, poverty, disability, and mental illness — through free, collaborative, writing workshops, public readings, and publication opportunities intended to empower community, amplify the voices of individuals, and to share stories with the world.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018
Projected Income $49,028.00
Projected Expense $48,374.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Taking Authorship, throughout Greater Boston
  • The Pine Street Artists' Workshop for Women
  • The Underground Poetry Club
  • Writers' Workshop at the Engagement Center
  • Wyman Writers Workshop

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Overview

Mission Statement

Dedicated to the fusion of art and advocacy, we take literature beyond conventional spaces. Our mission is to expand access to the literary arts for unheard and under-resourced communities in Greater Boston — including those isolated by the challenges of addiction recovery, trauma, poverty, disability, and mental illness — through free, collaborative, writing workshops, public readings, and publication opportunities intended to empower community, amplify the voices of individuals, and to share stories with the world.

Background Statement

Writers Without Margins, Inc. was created in 2014 to address the disconnect that too often exists between three thriving arenas in Boston: education, the arts, and human services. Starting with a partnership between our executive director, Cheryl Buchanan, and a dedicated group of writers at St. Francis House, a low-barrier shelter in Downtown Crossing, they set out to create a tight-knit community of writers that could engage and inspire each other to make their stories heard; through this effort, they created the St. Francis Writers Workshop, our first and longest-running program. Over the past three years, Writers Without Margins has grown quickly, partnering directly with shelters, community health centers, youth services agencies, a women's transitional housing program, and a 12-step prison reentry program along with other like-minded organizations to provide weekly workshops, at no cost to participants, around Greater Boston. These partnerships ensure that we're meeting our participants where they are, allowing us to supplement the support from our partnered organizations, and it also creates a sustainable avenue for self-expression, connection, communication and creativity as a tool for confronting and combating trauma.

Impact Statement

Through a belief in the empowering effect of writing one's own story, we connect the rich literary traditions and resources of Greater Boston with its artists and authors to empower, enable, and amplify the voices of unheard and underserved populations through free collaborative workshops, public readings, literary journals, video publications, and public exhibits that showcase their work and encourage personal reflection and re-vision, by both author and audience, while sharing their stories with the world. Our workshops are intended to expand access to the literary arts for everyone, including those marginalized, stigmatized, or isolated by the challenges of addiction recovery, disability, trauma, sickness, injury, poverty, and mental illness. 
 
In addition to our writing workshops (of which we currently have six), we also publish an annual, self-titled literary journal and hold at least one public reading event through each workshop yearly, along with several events over the course of the year at which all of our participants are invited to share their work. We are also currently in post-production on a documentary, "In Their Shoes: Unheard Stories of Reentry and Recovery," which is our latest effort to expand access and involvement in the arts for our participants. This 90-minute film is centered around the lives of six men, whose stories intersected at one of our creative writing classes, located in a prison reentry program in addiction recovery treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs). Followed over a period of 9 months, these men share stories from their childhood, crimes, and experiences, along with sharing their hopes, goals, and plans, which unfold in real time. Each of the men featured has already served prison sentences related to their drug use, ranging from 5-28 years
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Needs Statement

Because of a lack of access, the talent of marginalized voices is often silenced by a shortage of opportunities to develop and distribute their work, with gaps continuing to grow. We offer programs that are both open to the public and tailored exclusively for the residents or clients of specific agencies or human services organizations, providing stability and consistency amid volatility as an ancillary tool for those combatting trauma. Our workshops are modeled after a typical graduate school writing workshop, while at the same time providing a safe place for these precarious and transient communities. Attendance is our first measure of success. When participants continue in a workshop, we're able to build relationships and trust through literary discussions and responses to writing prompts. In the longer term, we measure outcomes through the evolution of a writer’s self-reported sense of identity, clarity, and connection, which comes in both the community workshop experience as well as the one on one revision and response meetings we hold with participants. It's through this process that we can begin to appreciate the transformation and confidence-building in our participants. As we continue to build our programs, our writers gain self-esteem, and they take ownership (and authorship) of their voices.
 
None of these outcomes would be possible without our dedicated team of workshop facilitators. These individuals come from all walks of life and have an experienced understanding of the communities they serve, and, in several instances, have come directly from those communities themselves. By employing individuals who have a unique understanding of their participants and participant backgrounds (and by facilitating workshop conversations, rather than lecturing), our facilitators create the space for our participants to open up, share their story, and gain a broader understanding of their own experiences.

CEO Statement

Our approach is based on a long history of programs and research in diverse populations. For more than twenty-five years, James W. Pennebaker at the University of Texas, Austin, has been studying the effects of expressive writing and reporting its positive impacts on both physical and emotional health as well as resulting behavior. “When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experience improved health,” Pennebaker writes. “They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function.” Furthermore, instead of obsessing continually over an event, they can focus on moving forward. As a result, stress levels go down and health, proportionately, goes up (“Writing to Heal,” James Pennebaker, UT 2005).

The effects of expressive writing are perhaps most profound in circumstances that are most dramatic. However, it may not take much in order to transform the narrative. According to a 2008 study at Georgetown University, “even a single, brief writing exercise is related to cancer patients’ reports of improved quality of life,” (The Oncologist, 13:196-204). With regard to physical improvement, a 2004 study of HIV patients in Auckland, New Zealand showed repeatedly higher T cell counts in patient groups who wrote directed personal essays throughout the course of treatment (Psychosomatic Medicine, 66:272-275). And, in the arena of academic performance, consistent results at Duke and Stanford Universities demonstrate that struggling students experienced increased empowerment, resulting in higher grades, through the writing and accompanying revision process. Their improved performance was attributed to a stronger sense of authority in decision-making and clearer reflection (“Writing Your Way to Happiness,” New York Times, 01/21/15).

In addition to developing our creative writing skills, we study classic and contemporary works of literature, finding commonality and building sustainable connection through the practice of “bibliotherapy”, a term first used in 1916 referring to the practice of reading for therapeutic effect. Writers Without Margins offers opportunities for critical thinking and analysis through literary interpretation, traditionally offered in a conventional college classroom, in human services environments and community centers. Our mission includes tailoring our approach to the individuals who gather, fostering group support and promoting personal insight during otherwise isolating experiences.


Board Chair Statement

Because we specifically want to maintain a mission that focuses on low-income (and no income) communities, we require funding as a public charity. So that together we can achieve our goals and expand, responsibly and knowledgeably, into the communities and populations who seek what we can offer, we need assistance to grow.  There are few resources we need, but they are critical.  For example, as personally fulfilling as witnessing what took place at the St. Francis House was for me, I knew that there was a better way for me to share the inspiration than for me to simply talk about it, or even write about it.  My own opinion that the writers were talented and inspiring was clearly biased as were my own opinions of "outcomes."  However, when I first, tentatively, brought up the idea of creating a print journal to the St. Francis group, it was met with so much enthusiasm in 2014 that I knew that I had to make it happen.  Since the original printing of Writers Without Margins: A Journal of Poetry and Prose: Volume One, I have watched the transformation of the contributors as they introduce themselves as poets, writers, and authors and I have seen their commitment to their work increase as they consider their impact on others.  Through this experience I have also come to believe even more strongly in the power of literature to change lives. 

No one can be more convincing than Al, however, who is featured in our first promotional video, "Why I Write."  As unique as his story is though, there is universal truth to the experiences he has endured and there are many more people who can benefit from the same type of support. 

Initially, I felt that there was far more resistance in the greater Boston community when I tried to explain what I believed was an important and unrealized  relationship between the literary and creative world and the social services field. I could point to the research and data of programs in other places but it seemed that there was, too often, an interest in keeping bright lines between disciplines, categories and classes here. Now that Writers Without Margins, Inc. has existed as more than a theory to blend those communities with positive results, we are able to demonstrate who we are and where we fit in the continuum of a long history of artists and advocates who work together to confront ourselves and our social problems and seek resolutions together. Thank you for your consideration and we greatly appreciate any support or involvement you are willing to extend. 

 

Geographic Area Served

City of Boston- Back Bay
City of Boston- South Dorchester
City of Boston- Roxbury
City of Boston- North Dorchester
City of Boston- Downtown
City of Boston- Citywide (Indiv. neighborhoods also listed)
GREATER BOSTON REGION, MA

Our writing workshops are open to everyone (at no cost to participate), with a primary focus on serving under-resourced and marginalized communities in Greater Boston.

Organization Categories

  1. Education - Educational Services
  2. Human Services - Homeless Services/Centers
  3. Arts,Culture & Humanities - Printing, Publishing

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)

Yes

Programs

Taking Authorship, throughout Greater Boston

Our lives are full of stories, and we can change the next chapter. So, how can we use creative writing to increase clarity, connection, empowerment and empathy by building the skills within us? Our newest seminar series is offered to organizations, support groups and clubs seeking to harness and hone the powers of language for personal insight and public advocacy. Our first workshop was a partnership with the Brockton-based Family Center and its local branch of College Unbound.
Budget  $5,000.00
Category  Human Services, General/Other Mentoring
Population Served Victims Minorities At-Risk Populations
Program Short-Term Success  Our first, model, workshop is with a women's support group for lower income, non-traditional students returning to college and using creative outlets for emotional support and empowerment.  The goals are academic success and degree completion as well as community building, connection and clarity.
Program Long-Term Success  Our first, model, workshop is with a women's support group for lower income, non-traditional students returning to college and using creative outlets for emotional support and empowerment.  The goals are academic success and degree completion as well as community building, connection and clarity. 
Program Success Monitored By  This is a new program, beginning in June.  Facilitator surveys and communication with the group coordinator at the Family Center who manages the Healing through Art programs will be ongoing.  Women will self-report their impacts of results in and out of the workshops.
Examples of Program Success  This is a new program, beginning in June.  We have already received consistent and unanimously strong results on our early impact surveys.  In similar programs, we have kept close contact with coordinators and caseworkers and received information about success rates of participants regarding how increased communication skills and improved image and identity have impacted performance and behavior in various ways. 

The Pine Street Artists' Workshop for Women

This hybrid workshop of writing and visual arts combines various methods, genres and styles of expression. By examining and exploring the trailblazers that came before us and connecting with the material of contemporary artists, we can find new ways to unlock our own language and encourage new confidence. In an environment of women supporting women this workshop offers a unique space combining safety and challenge, allowing freedom and structure for the creative process.
Budget  --
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other
Population Served Females Homeless Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success   `
Program Long-Term Success  `
Program Success Monitored By  `
Examples of Program Success  `

The Underground Poetry Club

This is a weekly workshop series offered for artists, storytellers and poets interested in using writing to confront the many challenges faced by young adults aging out of foster care, battling addiction, escaping exploitation, recovering from trauma, and making their way to be a better place from incarceration, judgment, hopelessness or violence.  Classes will focus on interpretive reading, expressive writing, the process(es) of revision, and the purpose and power of sharing work. This workshop is intended for 18-24 year olds.  Travelers are welcome. 
Budget  $5,500.00
Category  Human Services, General/Other Services for the Homeless
Population Served College Aged (18-26 years) At-Risk Populations Victims
Program Short-Term Success  Participants have a consistent safe space to be heard and to connect with a larger, universal, timeless community of authors as well as a room full of other diverse and supportive collaborators.
Program Long-Term Success  This is a new program, beginning in September for the 2016-2017 academic year.
Program Success Monitored By 
Participants will be in constant communication with facilitators, as communication and feedback are the core of our programs.  Participants will be asked to measure their own success on a regular basis and also critique the feedback they are receiving by the workshop facilitator as well as their "peers."  Critical analysis of literature and revision of participant work will be important elements of this workshop as well as expressive writing.  Participants will self-report goals and evaluate progress, impact and success.  Communication will also be initiated with the local youth shelter director and program coordinator, when applicable, as coordinated efforts may make sense when participants are seeking programs and services from both sources. 
 
 
 
 
Examples of Program Success  This is a new program, beginning in September for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Writers' Workshop at the Engagement Center

In partnership with the City of Boston and the Boston Public Health Commission, this workshop is offered amidst the shelters and recovery centers located in South Boston. Located at the Engagement Center, a safe space designed to reach individuals seeking services and support, this group will provide a creative outlet for men and women who are interested in sharing and discussing the universal messages of literature and/or creating their own, through guided exercises, ranging from performance to meditation as a means of clarity, connection, and communication.
Budget  --
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other General Arts Education
Population Served Homeless Alcohol, Drug, Substance Abusers At-Risk Populations
Program Short-Term Success  `
Program Long-Term Success  `
Program Success Monitored By  `
Examples of Program Success  `

Wyman Writers Workshop

This writing, reading, discussion and speaker series aims to engage men in a post-incarceration and addiction recovery program with additional tools for a stronger sense of connection and clarity, through literature. Utilizing a diverse range of styles, aesthetics, and forms, we encourage experimenting with new ideas, acknowledging and practicing the power of language through the four poetic temperaments of: story, structure, music and imagination.
Budget  --
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other
Population Served Alcohol, Drug, Substance Abusers
Program Short-Term Success  Short-term success is measured by the weekly participation of those in our classroom. It's about engaging individuals who may have never viewed creative writing as an activity available to them. 
Program Long-Term Success  Long-term success is measured by the overall engagement of our participants. It's about creating a safe space for individuals to express themselves and find alternative routes to coping with addiction. 
Program Success Monitored By  --
Examples of Program Success  Currently, we are publishing more work from the Wyman Writers Workshop than any of our other writing programs. 

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Management


CEO/Executive Director Ms. Cheryl Buchanan
CEO Term Start June 2015
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience Cheryl Buchanan is a co-founder of Writers Without Margins, Inc., a nonprofit whose mission is dedicated to the fusion of art and advocacy. Previously, she practiced law for over a decade, on behalf of more than 500 survivors of childhood sexual abuse and trauma. She has taught in law schools and undergraduate institutions and currently facilitates creative writing groups in homeless shelters, community health centers, prison reentry, addiction recovery homes and alternative youth educational programs. Cheryl is the recipient of several awards in poetry, has written for the Discovery Networks, and currently appears in, In Their Shoes: Unheard Stories of Reentry and Recovery.
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
-- -- --

Awards

Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --

Affiliations

Affiliation Year
Affiliate/Chapter of National Organization (i.e. Girl Scouts of the USA, American Red Cross, etc.) - Affiliate/chapter 2013
American Bar Association 2000
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --

Collaborations

We collaborate with human services organizations, universities, and individuals as described in our mission statement, programs and history. 

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Foundation Comments

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Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 1
Number of Part Time Staff 1
Number of Volunteers 20
Number of Contract Staff 10
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 4
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 6
Hispanic/Latino: 2
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): two disabled and one military veteran contractors
Gender Female: 8
Male: 4
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers N/A
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Under Development
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration Yes

Risk Management Provisions

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Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A

Governance


Board Chair Mr. Stephen Kennedy Smith
Board Chair Company Affiliation Resolute Bio, Inc.
Board Chair Term July 2015 - July 2020
Board Co-Chair Mr. Stephen Kennedy Smith Jr.
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation Park Agency -Kennedy Enterprises
Board Co-Chair Term July 2015 - July 2017

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Ms. Lucinda Jewell HPB Foundation Voting
Mr. Stephen Kennedy Smith Resolute Bio, Inc. Voting
Ms. Natalia Livingston Actor Boutique Voting
Dr. Theo Theoharis Harvard University Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mr. Jabari Asim NAACP, Emerson College --
Ms. Faith Breisblatt Step by Step Supportive Services --
Mr. Pablo Medina PEN America, Emerson College --
Mr. James Parker The Pilgrim Magazine, St. Paul's Church --
Mr. John Skoyles Ploughshares Magazine, Emerson College --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 4
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 2
Male: 2
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 0
Board Term Limits 0
Board Meeting Attendance % 76%
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 50%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation No

Standing Committees

    --

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Foundation Comments

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Financials


Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018
Projected Income $49,028.00
Projected Expense $48,374.00
Form 990s

2017 Form 990

2016 Form 990

2015 IRS Form 990

Audit Documents --
IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Revenue $106,877 $88,912 $36,323
Total Expenses $98,644 $51,586 $16,632

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $106,877 $88,909 $36,323
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue -- -- --
Investment Income, Net of Losses -- $3 --
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events -- -- --
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Program Expense $66,329 $51,586 $16,632
Administration Expense $27,980 -- --
Fundraising Expense $4,336 -- --
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.08 1.72 2.18
Program Expense/Total Expenses 67% 100% 100%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 4% 0% 0%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Assets $65,250 $57,017 $19,951
Current Assets $65,250 $57,017 $19,951
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $0 $0 $260
Total Net Assets $65,250 $57,017 $19,691

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy Income Only
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund No
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities inf inf 76.73

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above is per the organization's IRS Form 990s. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.

Documents


Impact

The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.


1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

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2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

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3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

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4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

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5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

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