The Estée Lauder Companies Announces Grantees for WRITING CHANGE Initiative Launched in Partnership with Amanda Gorman
The Estée Lauder Companies has announced the first-year grant recipients for WRITING CHANGE, its global three-year, US$3M literacy impact initiative inspired by Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, award-winning writer, and Estée Lauder Global Changemaker and Brand Ambassador.
“I am so thrilled that the work of these worthy organizations can continue to reach more communities through WRITING CHANGE. Representation in literacy matters. For youth, literacy is a pathway to social expression that leads to progress. I truly believe that words lead to actions that can change the world. I am so proud of the work that I know is to come, and I look forward to this first year of impact through WRITING CHANGE.” – Amanda Gorman, Estée Lauder Global Changemaker
“Amanda is a role model for an entire generation of new leaders, and we are deeply inspired by her energy, passion, and thought-leadership. We’re honored and excited to be behind these incredible organizations making amazing crossroads in literacy.” – William P. Lauder, Executive Chairman, The Estée Lauder Companies
SUSTAINED PROGRESS IN LITERACY
Literacy builds self-efficacy and esteem, unlocks opportunity, and empowers people to participate fully in their community and in society. Yet, despite the steady rise in literacy rates over the years, more than 773 million children and adults1 around the world are illiterate, most of whom are girls and women. In the United States, over 43 million adults2 lack functional literacy skills and nearly two-thirds of high school graduates are still reading below grade level.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further disrupted education and magnified the pre-existing inequalities in the access to tools, resources, and programming that are essential to sustained progress in literacy and learning, particularly in low-income or rural communities and in communities of color.
“We are so proud to launch WRITING CHANGE. This program is deeply tied to our company’s long-standing commitment to the advancement of education, particularly for women and girls – and was deeply inspired by Amanda’s belief in literacy as a pathway to change and its mission. Amanda herself demonstrates the power of storytelling and the impact of words on the lives of young people and how words can be a catalyst to effect change.” – Fabrizio Freda, President and CEO, The Estée Lauder Companies
Over three years, WRITING CHANGE will invest in organizations working to close the literacy gap and support efforts that work to advance systemic changes across three focus pillars:
- Access: Equitable access to literacy programs to ensure education is a fundamental right, especially for the communities in need.
- Advocacy: The publication and advocacy of diverse writers and young leaders to advance representation in literature at all levels.
- ArtisticExpression in Youth: Community programming that advances creativity and cultivates a passion for artistic and social expression in youth through writing, particularly for girls of color.
The WRITING CHANGE initiative will track and evaluate grantee impact on an annual basis in close coordination with the nonprofit partners, including robust reporting on programmatic progress across each pillar.
In its first year, WRITING CHANGE will focus on U.S. organizations with the potential to expand globally in years two and three. The WRITING CHANGE grant recipients were selected based on their proven ability to catalyze impact for youth, families, and diverse communities, demonstrated ability to collaborate across the nonprofit sector, and their ability to broaden their programmatic scale through WRITING CHANGE’s pillars of access, advocacy, and artistic expression. In its first year WRITING CHANGE will fund five U.S.-based organizations:
- American Library Association (ALA): The largest library organization in the world, ALA works to promote libraries and library education in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all. Funds from WRITING CHANGE will support an innovative pilot project for twelve libraries in the U.S. to partner with local artists to implement arts programming that builds literacy and digital skills for distinct populations – including youth at risk of low educational or employment attainment. The ALA digital access program aims to expand libraries’ reach into their community and increase libraries’ visibility as a path to educational persistence, economic mobility, and civic participation. The project emphasizes diverse artistic expression as a platform for community and aims to reach approximately 3,600 individuals in its first year.
ADVOCACY AND REPRESENTATION
- We Need Diverse Books (WNDB): A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that runs twelve exciting initiatives united under one goal – to combat systemic racism and oppression by creating a world where everyone can find themselves on the pages of a book. Through support from WRITING CHANGE, WNDB will further its work in tailored grants, mentorship programs, workshops, and community building, with particular support provided to advance The Native Fund, The Black Creatives Fund, and the Revisions Workshop.
ENGAGING YOUTH IN WRITING AS A FORM OF ARTISTIC AND SOCIAL EXPRESSION
- Girls Write Now: For 25 years, Girls Write Now has been breaking down barriers of gender, race, age, and poverty to mentor the next generation of writers and leaders who are impacting businesses, shaping culture, and creating change. They match young adults – over 90% of color, 90% high need, 75% immigrant or first generation, and 25% LGBTQIA+/gender expansive – with professional writers and multimedia makers as their personal mentors and immerse them in a supportive and networked community of writers, for life. Through support from WRITING CHANGE, Girls Write Now will aim to create a greater national presence in its core programming and Writing 360 program with an aim to reach 600 additional youth in the next year.
The WRITING CHANGE initiative will also fund two additional local community-based grants to Los Angeles-based organization WriteGirl and Minneapolis-based organization MIGIZI.
- WriteGirl: A Los Angeles-based creative writing and mentoring organization, WriteGirl spotlights the power of a girl and her pen. WriteGirl represents a community of more than 400 girls and 400 volunteer women writers who serve as creative writing mentors. 100% of WriteGirl graduating seniors have entered college, many on full or partial scholarships. WRITING CHANGE funding will support literacy-based programs for underserved girls through the WriteGirl Core Mentoring Program reaching girls with creative writing workshops, one-to-one mentoring by professional women, leadership development, and college/career-focused resources.
- MIGIZI:Based in Minnesota, MIGIZI provides a strong circle of support that nurtures the educational, social, economic, and cultural development of Native American youth. WRITING CHANGE will support MIGIZI’s First Person Production program equipping young Native people with 21st century media skills, teaching them how they can make a positive impact in Native media representation, and providing an arts and media space for emerging storytellers.
For more on WRITING CHANGE and the inaugural grantees, visit The Estée Lauder Companies’ corporate site, elcompanies.com/en/our-commitments/social-impact/writing-change-amanda-gorman.