Who we are
Asheville Writers In The Schools and Community (AWITSC) ignites social change through the power of the arts, culture, and restorative self-expression.
Founded in 2011 and committed to social justice and racial equity, AWITSC has provided children, youth, and families opportunities to voice their experiences and their passions, through innovative arts and creative writing programming. All of our programs nurture imaginative expression, self-confidence, community connections, healing and social change. We prioritize the development of artist mentors of color to facilitate programming in both school and community settings.
What we do
We provide free arts and culture programming with a context of critical analysis toward dynamics of power and oppression, for youth and families of color who do not have access to such experiences due to barriers such as cost, lack of transportation, absence of such programming or overt and covert discrimination.
We provide living wage employment, consulting opportunities and professional development for black and brown adults who are disproportionately impacted by income instability.
We create pathways to economic mobility for black and brown youth who are disproportionately excluded from legal sources of income and face economic disadvantage due to the education gap, the school to prison pipeline and institutionalized racism.
We create bilingual spaces that allow those who lack the comfort or ability to speak in English, to communicate in Spanish or a combination of both. In alignment with our language justice initiative, we recognize that providing spaces like this is an act of resistance toward xenophobia.
We build hope in black and brown communities through activities that seek to develop an individual’s awareness of their reality and from there, their ability to identify goals for the future, recognize pathways toward those goals and develop the agency to navigate the process.
We cultivate social cohesion in marginalized communities through creative placemaking that ignites social change. Since our impacted population faces negative health outcomes at disproportionately higher rates than other NC communities, social cohesion creates platforms for action which have long term positive impacts on the social determinants of health.
We are incubating a social enterprise model that offers black and brown artists the opportunity to earn income for their time and talent, while also contributing to the sustainability of our organization and cultivating leadership from impacted communities.
One of our most impactful programs is Word on the Street/La Voz de les Jóvenes (WOTS/VDLJ), which was launched in 2016. WOTS/VDLJ is an afterschool (and one Saturday per month) program, with a summer intensive, that centers the leadership and creativity of black and brown youth, ages 13-19. Through arts-based programming, participants (known as The Squad) develop healthy relationships with peers and mentors, while working to make a difference in their community using their voices, talents and imaginations. As members of The Squad, youth build a unique and bilingual space to become hopeful about their futures, experience racial healing and develop a radical imagination to build a better world.
Sekou Coleman, Executive Director
Laura Padilla, Program Coordinator
Board of Directors
Marisa Blake, Board Chair
Sophia Rutherford, Vice Chair
Kate Pett, Treasurer
Katie Latino, Secretary
133 Livingston Street Suite ML14
Asheville, NC 28801