Community Writing Projects

The Writers House hosts on-site creative writing projects, organizes book drives, and works hard to connect with Philadelphia communities through writing. Interested in helping out and generating ideas? Contact us with your questions and ideas, and check out the projects below.

Word Camp

Cosmic Writers is a creative writing nonprofit program founded by the directors of a KWH project called Word Camp. Cosmic Writers offers in person and virtual creative writing workshops for kids — in a multitude of genres, taught by college student instructors, many of them Penn students. Cosmic Writers partners with Philadelphia-area schools to host field trips to the KWH. To learn more (including about opportunities for Penn students to get involved), visit

Writing A Life

Writing a Life is a creative writing workshop, created to offer cancer patients the opportunity to explore their experiences through writing and shared discussion. Because of confidentiality concerns, the group is open only to people with a cancer diagnosis, past or present. For many years, the group met once a month at the Kelly Writers House. Restrictions related to COVID have made it necessary to hold the sessions online. The program is based on the idea that writing about one’s experience is a crucial part of the healing process. No formal education or experience in writing is necessary. Each session begins with a prompt which we see as an invitation, not an assignment. Participants are invited to share their work, but this is not required.

For more information, write to Deborah Burnham:


KWH community members also volunteer with several Philadelphia non-profit agencies devoted to writing, literacy and art education that would welcome your ideas and energy. Here are just a few important programs.


Mighty Writers offers free programming to teach Philadelphia’s students to “think and write with clarity.” Students participate in short and long-term writing classes, college and essay preparation, and writing mentorships. College student volunteers can be writing tutors, writing mentors or workshop leaders for K-12 students. Email Khalia Robinson at Mighty Writers West or


Philadelphia Futures is a nonprofit organization that provides Philadelphia’s low-income, first generation-to-college students with the tools, resources, and opportunities necessary for admission to and success in college. You can get involved by becoming a summer intern, reading buddy, or weekly tutor. Contact Ellen Solomon, Volunteer Coordinator.


The Petey Greene Program supports students enrolled in education programs in prisons, jails, through one-on-one tutoring. Petey Greene partners with Penn to recruit, train, and coordinate volunteers. Tutors commit to weekly sessions of supporting students in a variety of subjects and from the pre-GED to GED and high-school level. For more information, contact Emma Sindelar.


Spells Writing Lab offers literacy programs for K-12 students, including classroom visits focused on creative writing and revision, after-school programs, weekend writing workshops, and a summer day camp. All their programs are free, and many incorporate other artistic disciplines such as music, film, or the visual arts to inspire young writers. Contact for information on volunteering.


Art Sanctuary is a community-based organization and gallery that focuses on art and outreach in the black community in Philadelphia. Founded by writer and Penn professor Lorene Cary, Art Sanctuary is dedicated to bringing Philadelphians together through the unique community-building power of black art. They provide different opportunities to volunteer, from helping with school art projects to working in the gallery or for the Celebration of Black Arts Festival. See or email


ArtWell supports young people through multidisciplinary arts education and creative reflection to discover their strengths, face complex challenges, and awaken their dreams. Art Well’s longest running program, We the Poets, helps students build literacy, communication, and self-expression skills, and fosters a love of learning through poetry. ArtWell also has a youth poetry slam team. Email: or fill out the online volunteer interest form.


If you are artistically inclined, you may be interested in Philadelphia’s renowned Mural Arts Program, which supports community building through public art and restorative justice. See for opportunities. Email