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Organizations: Going Deep

 

These students are digging Deep.

A nonprofit formed in 2008 to combat illiteracy and encourage self-expression, Deep provides free, after-school writing workshops to public school students from age 8 to 18, at 21 locations across Savannah. Around 40 established and award-winning writers, professors and journalists – fellows include poet-memoirist Chad Faries and B.J. Love – teach small groups with the goal of publishing the students’ work in a professionally printed and bound Deep Anthology at the end of the 10-week course.

“We’ve learned that having that end goal of getting published and seeing their work in print really motivates and engages them in the process more than simply asking them to sit down and write for an hour,” says executive director Cather-ine Killingsworth, who just completed her first novel.

“We’re developing writing skills, obviously – teaching students how to be more specific in detail, to organize their thoughts, to articulate themselves – but it’s about much more than that. It’s about providing mentors who help these kids find their voice. Many of them don’t feel as if someone is listening to them, and they learn otherwise. We celebrate those voices.”

The program has grown 10 times larger in size in three years, and book release parties for the anthology, which include readings from the “DeepKids,” have become a hot literary ticket on the coast; more than 300 people attended the last event.

As an experiment, Deep conducted a mock standardized writing test before and after the program. Students scored 20 percent higher after completing the course.

“Teaching just to test is not our primary objective,”  Killingsworth says, “but that’s a nice benefit, considering that schools usually rejoice over a five percent improvement.”

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