project leader
Leah L
14101 Euclid Avenue
(East Cleveland)
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the project

Last year, we launched our inaugural conference at the East Cleveland Public Library, which is free and open to the public. Participants learned about the craft of writing and publishing from thirteen published authors and scholars, and one industry professional. One scholar was our keynote speaker, Tayari Jones, professor of English at Emory University in Atlanta and author of An American Marriage, an Oprah Book Club selection and number four on President Barack Obama’s 2018 Summer Reading List. In partnership with Case Western Reserve University, we also honored former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove with the Alice Dunbar Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award on the Friday before our Conference.

This year we have confirmed the participation of local authors, blogger, poets, and journalists. We have also secured the participating of Kima Jones of the LA-based firm, Jack Jones Literary Arts. Kima has broken new ground in a stellar fashion for African American authors. Kima Jones has received fellowships from PEN America West Emerging Voices, Kimbilio Fiction, Yaddo, and the MacDowell Colony. She was named on the inaugural Bitch 50 list in 2017 as a "shape-shifter who pushed pop culture to be more representative, inspiring, and meaningful for communities who are typically ignored by mainstream media." The Los Angeles Times called Kima "2018's literary breakthrough" and "an important new voice on the national stage." She has been published at GQ, Guernica, Poets and Writers, NPR and McSweeney's and in the anthologies Unruly Bodies, a pop-up magazine by Roxane Gay for Medium and the New York Times Best Seller, The Fire this Time, edited by Jesmyn Ward. Her short story "Nine" received notable mention in Best American Science Fiction 2015, and her hybrid poem "Homegoing AD" appears in Best American Nonrequired Reading 2017. She serves as an advisory board member for the Rumpus, the Anisfield-Wolf Fellowship, the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Carter Black Mountain Institute and its flagship magazine, The Believer, and the Wordplay Literary Festival. Kima founded Jack Jones Literary Arts in March 2015 and works as lead strategist on all publicity campaigns and is especially proud of her work on the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry winner, Olio, by Tyehimba Jess; the 2017 PEN America Robert W. Bingham Emerging Fiction Prize winner, Insurrections, by Rion Amilcar Scott; the 2017 Midland Authors Award winner in Adult Fiction, Know the Mother, by Desiree Cooper; and May-lee Chai’s Useful Phrases for Immigrants. Kima divides her time between Los Angeles and New York. She writes poetry and prose.

A major surprise--the name of our keynote speaker--is forthcoming! We'll release his name as soon as possible. You will be thrilled!

For more information visit


the steps

We will execute The Great Lakes African American Writers Conference! The pieces are in place. We just need the balance of the fund to bring GLAAWC to life.

why we're doing it

Equitable access to workforce training, educational opportunities, and employment experiences are critical to overcoming barriers to employment for workers of color. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, the overall civilian unemployment rate was 4.9 percent. However, unemployment rates by major race and ethnicity groups ranged from 3.6 percent for Asians to 8.4 percent for Blacks or African Americans; the rate for Whites was 4.3 percent in 2016, and the rate for Hispanics or Latinos was 5.8 percent.[1] Providing skills training opportunities locally are one way to reduce employment disparities and strengthen the economy.

Past research from the National Endowment for the Arts has demonstrated that writers and authors in particular experience higher unemployment rates among artist occupations.1 The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that about 1 in 4 writers and authors worked part-time in 2016 and anticipates strong competition for jobs in this field will continue. Today, writers and authors must adapt their skill sets to using new technologies and electronic tools, and publishing to digital platforms. In a rapidly changing work environment, ongoing training opportunities in these complementary areas are important as writers and authors continue to strengthen their core writing skills throughout their careers.2

Further, most writers are entrepreneurs. Many self-publish. This is demonstrative of an entrepreneurial mindset. Many are also bi- or multi-vocational as they work to increase their book sales. So, developing a writers’ entrepreneurial toolbox is of pressing concern. As referenced above, today’s writers must utilize social media, become tech-savvy, in addition to mastering marketing, promotion, and finances. When with the support of traditional publishing houses, the writer is a business owner. Literature is a product that is consumed.


DISBURSED BUDGET (09.09.2019):

Speaker Fees $5000

Youth Poetry Slam $1,895.65

TOTAL RAISED = $7,145.00
ioby Platform Fee $35.00
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $214.35


Speaker Fees $5000

Youth Poetry Slam $2500

ioby Platform Fee     $35
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%)    $233
TOTAL TO RAISE =    $7,768


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