NeWP Receives First Ever Urban Sites Network Grant

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Dan Boster’s commitment to social justice in the metro Omaha area has drawn the attention of the NWP Urban Sites Network.  Dan’s Omaha-area “Literacy for Social Justice in the Urban Heartland” project has received a $5000 grant from the National Writing Project’s Urban Sites Network.

Dan, who teaches English at Ralston High School, writes:
“Like students in other major cities, students in the Omaha area face the unique challenges of living and going to school in an urban environment. The purpose of this project is to develop a group of teachers in Omaha metropolitan area high schools who are dedicated to the idea of challenging students to study, discuss, and write about literature in a way that engages them with the myriad social issues that are facing citizens of all urban areas in our country.”
Along with Jeff Grinvalds, Project Co-Leader and Westside High School English teacher, Dan designed the project that will engage three tiers of participants. First, a group of Omaha area educators from six school districts including Ralston, Westside, Omaha Central, Omaha Northwest, Omaha Burke and Omaha South high schools will explore the social justice literacy principles. Second, these educators will work with a group of secondary students to develop an ongoing, year-long writing and reading program promoting social justice. Third, the teacher/student teams will gather at a full day seminar to present their projects to a wide audience of Nebraska Writing Project teachers, community members, and additional secondary students. The ultimate goal of this project is to develop leadership in the area of social justice throughout Omaha area schools and to make this an ongoing program.
A project like this has been an interest of Dan’s for some time. He writes further:
   “I’ve been interested in the intersection of literature, writing, and social issues since writing my master’s thesis about ecopoetry and its potential use as an agent for changing attitudes about environmental issues.
   My interest in Freire and the other ideas arose from two things. One was the poetry festivals that have brought students together from schools all over the metro area. During these festivals, I have seen how much students enjoy meeting students from other schools and how this opportunity leads to some dynamic conversations.  
   The other was a presentation about Freire given to my AP students by Douglas Paterson, a theater professor from University of Nebraska-Omaha.  This session was intriguing and energizing and led me to re-read Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Upon doing this, I started thinking about how to use the ideas in this books, along with those from The Literature Workshop and Writing for a Change, to develop models for helping students read, discuss, and write about socially engaged texts.

For more information or to get involved, click below to download the brochure or contact one of the following:
Literacy for Social Justice in the Urban Heartland
Daniel Boster, Project Leader, Ralston High School,
Jeff Grinvalds, Project Co-Leader, Westside High School,

Story Collaborators: Dan Boster, Mary Birky, Jeff Grinvalds, Robert Brooke

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