Write Your Life: hosted by Harvest Hands

A nonprofit organization

$13,890 Raised

100% complete

$12,000 Goal

Mission Statement:

Through workshops taught by creative writers, Write Your Life equips underserved students with writing skills that enable them to artfully shape their unique life experiences into compelling college admission essays.

Vision Statement:

To inspire urban youth from under-resourced communities to write creatively, with confidence, and with purpose—to gain college admission.

The Need

Imagine you’re a high school student growing up in a large barracks-style housing complex—where the average household income is less than $7,000. It’s an area with one of the highest crime rates in the city. The public school you attend has for years been underfunded. Teacher turnover is high. In recent years, the district has routinely lost nearly one-quarter of its teachers. Language arts scores are low. It’s worse for Hispanic and Black students, with a gap relative to white students of more than 25 percent. Unlike your higher income peers in the suburbs or private schools, you can’t afford independent preparatory coursework, nor does your school have dedicated college counselors with professional expertise in higher education enrollment. The idea of writing a college-admission essay—this high-stakes writing task—is daunting, if not insurmountable. You, as a high school student in this situation, are at a significant disadvantage.

And it’s all been made worse with the pandemic.

The Good News

Through Write Your Life workshops—conducted by experienced, creative writers—students in under-resourced communities have the opportunity to practice the writing skills necessary to create compelling personal essays for college admission applications.

From the first workshop, students discover that this isn’t the typical English composition class with the obligatory research paper. No! Here students are experts in their own lives. This is made clear from the first writing exercise that asks these young workshop authors to draw a map of their neighborhood, and then to write about something that happened. Writing about that one experience leads to other stories of obstacles overcome, problems solved, and growth of individuals. These budding writers have, in fact, a wealth of experiences that reveal diverse perspectives and insights. As one workshop student put it, “I write about things that leave a mark.”  

Over eight weeks during the one-hour workshops, students hone their writing skills. They craft attention-getting opening lines and endings, establish setting and character, write dialogue, and revise for impact—bringing home the “so what” of the essay, the reason college-admission counselors want these students to be part of their diverse student population.

By the conclusion of the workshops, students will have

• Increased their confidence in writing.

• Learned transferable skills.

• Considered college as a realistic goal.

• Completed well-crafted, compelling essays for their college-admission application.

By your generous donation, you can help these students "leave a mark"be part of a life-changing, community-changing experience.



In the 2020-21 school year, students in the Sudekum-Napier neighborhood of Nashville (as portrayed in the above Need section) participated in Write Your Life workshops through Harvest Hands Community Development, in cooperation with Vanderbilt Divinity School’s independent study program and support through the Public Scholars program at the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise & Public Policy at Vanderbilt.

Organization Data


Organization name

Write Your Life: hosted by Harvest Hands

Tax id (EIN)



Arts & Culture Education Community


424 Humphreys Street

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