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First lady honors nonprofit serving SCV

WriteGirl, an L.A.-based program that builds girls’ writing skills, brings curriculum to Saugus

Posted: November 24, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 24, 2013 2:00 a.m.

First Lady Michelle Obama, left, presents the 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award to Jacqueline Uy, center, a 16-year-old aspiring journalist and WriteGirl participant, and WriteGirl Executive Director Keren Taylor.

A program to help set girls at two Santa Clarita Valley probationary camps on the road to academic success through creative writing and mentoring has been honored at the White House by first lady Michelle Obama.

Representatives from WriteGirl, a nonprofit that serves girls at Camp Scott and Camp Scudder in Saugus, were presented Friday with the 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award by Obama in the East Room of the White House. WriteGirl was one of 12 organizations nationwide to receive the honor.

WriteGirl serves teen girls in the Los Angeles area interested in writing, recruiting them from high-density high schools through referrals from teachers, counselors or social workers, said Allison Deegan, associate director for the program.

Under its Core Mentoring Program, each girl meets once a week one-on-one with her mentor, a professional woman with a career involving writing. Once a month the girls meet for a workshop that can involve as many as 200 girls, Deegan said.

The girls learn a variety of writing skills, from script writing to song writing to memoirs and more, Deegan said. But the goal goes far beyond language skills — hence the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award.

“Once we build their confidence in writing, we can bridge that into confidence in all of their realities in their lives — especially academics,” Deegan said in a phone interview from Washington, D.C. “That gives us the groundwork to guide them all to college.”

WriteGirl leaders were asked to adapt their Core Mentoring Program to serve girls in probationary camps, starting with Camp Scott and Camp Scudder through the common school the two share, Road to Success Academy.

“Our program is in a true partnership with Los Angeles County and the Probation Department,” Deegan said.

Organizers celebrated a milestone recently when a WriteGirl participant — since released from the Saugus probationary camp where she was held but an ongoing member of the program — was accepted at a California university, Deegan said.

“For 12 consecutive years, WriteGirl has maintained a 100 percent success rate in guiding high school seniors in the Core Mentoring Program to not only graduate from high school but enroll in college,” says a statement issued by the organization.


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