WriteBoston fosters deep learning for youth and educators. We elevate and reshape the role of literacy — writing, reading, and discussion — so that all youth think critically and can use their voice to create change.
WriteBoston offers professional development and coaching for educators and afterschool and summer programming for youth. All of our work seeks to enhance the learning experiences of young people.

Our core values are:

Transformative Learning

Powerful learning experiences are engaging, empowering, and inclusive. Our programming taps into the talents, knowledge, and identities of all learners: youth and educators alike. We help educators transform their teaching and leadership practice with new ways of thinking, strategies, and inspiration to realize greater possibilities for their classrooms and students. We help youth to broaden their learning and experiences to become critical thinkers and powerful writers.

Empowering Literacy

Reading, writing, and discussion are essential tools across all areas of study, work, and life. They are necessary for critical thinking, self-expression, connecting with others, and advocating for change. We honor the language assets and literacy backgrounds that young people bring. Through literacy-rich experiences, learners build further skills to advance their educational, personal, and community goals.

Youth Voice

We center and amplify youth voices. Youth deserve spaces where their experiences, perspectives, and opinions are heard – and respected. We believe this is central to their personal development and sense of agency. We know that our institutions and communities are better when young people participate and contribute their ideas.


Young people’s learning experiences should enrich their lives and equip them with the tools they need to create positive change. Our programming honors the multiple identities and lived experiences of people. We use learning spaces as sites to resist and interrupt long-standing patterns of marginalization and oppression.

In collaboration with our partners, we strive toward the vision that all young people have high-quality learning experiences with educators who are deeply skilled and continuously learning.

The early years

In 2002, the late Mayor Thomas Menino and faculty at Harvard’s School of Education saw a problem. Low scores on the English portion of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) suggested that Boston Public School students weren’t writing.

Jake Murray and Rick Weissbourd from the Harvard Children’s Initiative created the initial outline for WriteBoston. Then they hired our first employee: Betty Southwick, who served as Executive Director for 14 years.

In those early years, WriteBoston brought critical attention to youth writing. We coached teachers in three schools, sponsored teen poetry slams, and organized author visits to classrooms. Over time, the depth of our work increased. We launched the Teens in Print newspaper with The Boston Globe. We developed writing centers in local high schools. Our professional development spread to more schools and districts beyond Boston. We partnered with other youth organizations to improve literacy outside of traditional classrooms.


Nearly two decades later, WriteBoston has developed an effective coaching model, published thousands of young people, and provided direct writing support to thousands more. Today, we foster transformative learning through a professional development and coaching program for educators and afterschool and summer programming for Boston students.

All our work seeks to enhance the learning experiences of youth.

Read about our impact

Learn about our programs: