A Note from Our Executive Director

December 19, 2023

#AWP23 HBCU Fellowship Program creative advisor A.J. Verdelle speaks with #AWP24 keynote speaker Jericho Brown at a reception in Seattle, Washington for #AWP23.

Dear AWP Members, 

It is hard to believe 2023 is drawing to a close. It was a wonderful year filled with talented award winners, gifted mentors and mentees, and a vibrant annual conference in Seattle—all because of you. 

We would like to take a moment to reflect on the AWP HBCU Fellowship Program, which launched successfully at #AWP23. This new program provided honoraria, travel, lodging, and programming funds to bring two faculty members and four students from historically Black colleges and universities to the conference, where they met with our inaugural creative advisor, A. J. Verdelle, and created a concrete plan to strengthen creative writing at their respective HBCUs.  

This experience allowed both faculty and student fellows to grow and connect. #AWP23 HBCU student fellow Christen Montgomery of Prairie View A&M University reflects: “This fellowship has proven to be a foundation of opportunity for young Black writers such as myself.”

Launching this program had been a dream for some time. With the support of the AWP community and grant money from the National Endowment for the Arts to jump-start the program, we were able to make it a reality in 2023. With Rion Amilcar Scott as our next creative advisor and #AWP24 student and faculty fellows already announced, the AWP HBCU Fellowship Program will be back for a second year at the #AWP24 conference. To ensure this program is a lasting addition to the annual conference and bookfair, we need your help to increase funding to serve more HBCU students and faculty.

During our recent Giving Tuesday campaign, we raised $2,600 through #AWP24 T-shirt sales and individual donations to put toward next year’s fellowships—but we still have a long way to go. Can you help us reach our goal of $10,000? Every contribution helps! Donate to sustain the AWP HBCU Fellowship Program

Thank you for your continued support and for donating what you can!


Wishing you the happiest of holidays,

Cynthia Sherman
Executive Director
Association of Writers & Writing Programs

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