“The Young Writers Program provides students with one-on-one attention to help them harness their voice. It teaches them valuable communication skills they will use for the rest of their lives.”

– Jessica Pasko, journalist and Young Writers Program volunteer

The Young Writers Program Mission:


The Young Writers Program is dedicated to Santa Cruz County students in grades 4-12 and their teachers in building students’ writing skills and confidence.

The Young Writers Program is grassroots and we’re passionate about writing. What began in the fall of 2012 with an In-Classroom Program has expanded into two more programs: a Dedicated Writing Room Program and an After-School Writing Center—The Word Lab–that will open Oct. 3 at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History.

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The In-Classroom Project

Community volunteers work as writing assistants in grade 4-12 public school classrooms to work on teacher-initiated writing projects. Volunteers generally work in groups of four to five students twice a week, for an hour at a time. Projects typically last six to eight weeks.

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The Dedicated Writing Room Project

The Young Writers Program is excited to have a Dedicated Writing Room at Branciforte Middle School in Santa Cruz. Students are able to work on their writing in a relaxed, quiet environment. Volunteers work in the same capacity as those in the In-Classroom Program.

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The Word Lab

Opening October 3 at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, The Word Lab is an after-school writing center that will serve Gault, Bay View, and Branciforte Middle School during its first year. Open Monday through Wednesday from 2:30 to 5:00, a credentialed teacher will be on hand during Word Lab hours. Volunteers will assist students on original and engaging writing projects.

Young Writers Program volunteers attend trainings and build a special kind of camaraderie. All trainings are free. Volunteers must be fingerprinted and provide proof of a negative TB test before working in a public school classroom.

All of the Young Writers Program projects have as their goal some type of public sharing of student writing, either a public reading or a professionally designed and produced book. In addition, each spring students from all our projects self-select to read a portion of their work at our Year-End Reading at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Watch a clip below for a sample!

This is satisfying stuff! If you are interested in becoming a Writing Project Assistant or are a teacher who has a project in mind, please be in touch. We’d love to hear from you!

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If you would like to become a Writing Project Assistant, please click here to register >

Community Partners:

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