Iowa Youth Writing Project gets $20,000 grant

Juvenile Home Foundation donates money to youth writing

The Iowa Juvenile Home Foundation will give a $20,000 donation to the Iowa Youth Writing Project as a result of the foundation’s $42,000 in excess funds after the sate closed the juvenile home in January.

The Iowa Youth Writing Project is a non-profit started by University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduates in 2010. The program is a partnership with the UI to expand Iowa City’s literary heritage across Iowa.

The Juvenile Home Foundation will also give $10,000 to the Iowa Women’s Collective, $10,000 to the Tama County Community Foundation and $2,000 to the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City.

Carol Thompson, a past president of the foundation, said the writing project received the largest grant because it proposed to seek out the displaced girls from around the state and continue the program in the absence of the juvenile home.

“The kids receive therapy and the usual treatments but it seems like writing helps kids sort of process stuff,” Thompson said. “We noticed through reading and writing the kids could process that they’re not the only ones and there’s other people who had childhood trauma. They can see how other people resolved these things.”

Dora Malech, former director of the Iowa Youth Writing Project, announced the grant in a meeting with the writing project’s Community Advisory Council on Thursday.

“While we’re glad that the Iowa Juvenile Home Foundation believes that we can continue to further their mission of working with and supporting at risk girls in the state of Iowa, it’s heartbreaking that this happened as a result of the closing of the juvenile home, which has left the state of Iowa without a central state facility to help one of our state’s most vulnerable populations,” she said.

The program publishes the kids’ work into books, so funding will go toward advancing the foundation’s original mission of helping youth girls and also toward resources for the overall writing project.

“They knew they could give us these resources and we could be good stewards,” said Lisa Roberts, community advisory council chair for the Iowa Youth Writing Project.

Thursday also marked the first meeting for the writing project’s new director, Rachel Yoder. Yoder will take over Malech’s position in August.

“I’m really honored to be inheriting this gem of a program that Dora started,” she said.

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