Folsom Prison Toastmasters Give Back to At-Risk Youth, Publish Letters to Their Former Selves

“The day that you decided that being cool (or ‘down’) was living a life of crime and wearing the ‘tough guy’’ mask was the day you forgot your dreams. You became Sam I Wasn’t.”

Folsom, June 7, 2017 –  Folsom prisoners dispatch real words of wisdom and hope in their new book “Sam I Was: Letters to My Former Self”, written for young people interfacing with the juvenile justice system. 

Press Release

Contact:            Katie McCleary, 916 Ink Executive Director, 916-826-7323, Katie@916ink.org

Date:                        June 13, 2017

916 Ink Awarded THREE California Arts Council Grants, totaling $93,200

Sacramento, CA – The California Arts Council announced its plans to award three grants to 916 Ink under three different programs. The awards are $27,000 as part of the JUMP StArts program, $16,200 as part of its Artists in Schools-Extension program, and $50,000 as part of its Creative California Communities program.

“We are thrilled to receive three California Arts Councils grant to provide in-depth and engaging literary arts experiences for over 150 youth who have little-to-no arts exposure in the Sacramento region.”- Chris Baltzley, 916 Ink Board President.

916 Ink as awarded the following grants:

1. JUMP StArts: State funds support local arts programming for at-risk youth. JUMP StArts supports arts education for youth engaged in the juvenile justice system. 916 Ink will provide six “Find Your Voice” creative writing workshops that empower 100 7th-12th graders who are incarcerated or on probation to find their unique voice and the hero within. Students work with writers for 15 sessions. Their voices are amplified through publication of three professional anthologies that include the students' polished poems, stories, and prose. 100 7th-12th graders will be celebrated as published authors. To view a complete listing of all JUMP StArts grantees, visit http://arts.ca.gov/programs/files/CAC_JUMPStArts_Grantees_2016-17_FINAL.pdf.

2. Artists in Schools – Extension: State funds support after school arts education programming for local Sacramento students. As an offshoot of the Council’s signature arts education grant program, one of the agency’s longest running, the new Artists in Schools - Extension program offering supports arts education programs for Pre-K-12 students that operate after school and during the summer, on school sites, in artistic venues, and in community settings. 916 Ink will transform 40 youth, in grades 6-12, into confident writers and published authors who know the power of their unique voices. 40 youth will partake in an intensive creative writing workshop series that culminates in two professionally published anthologies of poetry and prose released at a public performance. By transforming youth into authors, 916 Ink helps create lifelong learners and healthy-minded students who appreciate the arts. To view a complete listing of all Artists in Schools - Extension grantees, visit http://arts.ca.gov/programs/files/CAC_AIS_Extension_Grantees_2016-17_FINAL.pdf.

3. Creative California Communities: State funds will leverage local arts project to address community needs. The program supports collaborative projects that harness arts and culture as a creative placemaking strategy. Projects will benefit residents and visitors by utilizing area artists, cultural organizations and arts-related businesses to address community needs or priorities. With support from the California Arts Council, 916 Ink will partner with the Franklin Blvd. Public Business Improvement District and California State University, Sacramento to produce Larger Than Life/Mas largo Que La Vida, a series of monumental site specific poems, artworks and happenings that uncover the Latino, agricultural, and business history of a 1.5-mile stretch of road, that was once voted the ugliest street in Sacramento, while tackling the district's long struggle with identity. To view a complete listing of all Creative California Communities grantees, visit http://arts.ca.gov/programs/files/CAC_CCC_Grantees_2016-17_FINAL.pdf.

News of 916 Ink’s grants were featured as part of a larger announcement from the California Arts Council, which can be viewed online at http://arts.ca.gov/news/pressreleases.php.

“The benefits of arts access is exponential when considering our state’s most vulnerable young people,” said Donn K. Harris, Chair of the California Arts Council. “The California Arts Council is proud to support 916 Ink and its partners.”

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916 Ink’s mission is to transform children and youth into confident writers and published authors who know the power of story and their unique voices. To date, 916 Ink has published more than 3300 young people in more than 85 beautiful books. Learn more about them at www.916ink.org.

The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity. The Council is committed to building public will and resources for the arts; fostering accessible arts initiatives that reflect contributions from all of California's diverse populations; serving as a thought leader and champion for the arts; and providing effective and relevant programs and services.

Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Donn K. Harris, Vice Chair Nashormeh Lindo, Larry Baza, Phoebe Beasley, Christopher Coppola, Juan Devis, Kathleen Gallegos, Jaime Galli, Louise McGuinness, Steven Oliver, and Rosalind Wyman. Learn more at www.arts.ca.gov