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School Residency Program

The School Residency Program of InsideOut Literary Arts Project puts practicing, professional writers in 30 Detroit schools to work with students on creative writing. At the end of the year-long residencies, students are hooked on the power and pleasure of writing and are rewarded by becoming published authors themselves. 
Michigan Nightlight: In your view, what makes your program innovative, effective or remarkable? 
InsideOut Literary Arts Project’s Director of Communications and Marketing Nichole ChristianOur longevity is a key asset in the work that we do. InsideOut Literary Arts Project has helped thousands of youth across Detroit explore and unlock their own voices through poetry. Students study great authors and poets, but the work they create is original, often gut-wrenching snapshots of their lives. Because our writers give students the tools to explore the magic they already have on the inside, InsideOut is able to share some pretty amazing work with the outside world, creations that many people don’t think possible from students in Detroit.
What was the best lesson learned in the past year?
We’ve marked our 17th year by really spreading our wings and discovering that there are partners across the community who are willing to help, even if they have no natural affinity for poetry. Collaboration is vital, and it’s a powerful way to move goals forward.
What was the hardest lesson learned in the past year?
Even if you have a program with a strong reputation, youth recruitment for afterschool programs can still be a challenge. You have to be very creative in what you offer and you have to be realistic about Detroit’s transportation challenges. While transportation remains a hurdle in Detroit, we've found a workable solution by being more strategic in the locations we choose for afterschool programming. This year, we've worked to provide a broader mix, including school-based options in densely populated neighborhoods. But we are also continuing our tradition of selecting centrally located major venues such as the main branch of the Detroit Public Library and the Detroit School of Arts. 
What really differentiates this program?
InsideOut gives students a chance to unlock and experience the power of their own ideas simply by having the courage to set pen to paper under the guidance of highly trained adult writers.
Students who engage with us also enjoy the perk of becoming a published author at the end of the school year. We publish a professionally designed journal for each school that we serve. The journals are a highlight and hallmark of our programming.
What are the keys to success for your program?
Collaboration is the key to everything we do. Whether it’s at the classroom level, between students and writers or in the way that we work to establish and maintain partnerships with other community agencies, InsideOut continues to flourish because of the bridges we build, believe it or not, through poetry. Poetry and creative self-expression really do bring people together to make amazing things happen.
In looking at programs similar to yours, which program do you think is doing exceptional work?
The program most closely aligned to our style of work would be Writers in The Schools in Houston. Their approach in the classroom and broad mix of writing closely mirrors our efforts in Detroit: http://witshouston.org.
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  • InsideOut Literary Arts Project
    By immersing students in the joy and power of poetry and literary self-expression, InsideOut inspires them to think broadly and create bravely and share their voices with the wider world.


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