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

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Great Lakes African American Writers Conference is going virtual on Wednesday, September 23, and October 2 - 4 (Friday through Sunday). Join us for our annual conference where literary creatives from throughout the Great Lakes, and now the globe, gather to learn from influential publishing professionals from industry hubs like Los Angeles and New York. This year’s conference remains as part of Cleveland Book Week sponsored by the Cleveland Foundation’s Anisfield-Wolf Book Fund per usual. 

We are still in the planning phase. While I made the decision to go virtual in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic it took a while to adjust to our “new normal.” The decision was easy to make as I thought about our community and the demographics of GLAAWC in the past two years. There was no way I could put our audience ranging from ages thirteen (13) to ninety-three (93) at risk with live events. Two very exciting proposed in-person events have been postponed to 2021. 

So, we have pivoted to a virtual platform. I believe my team, my “brain trust” as I call them, and I have selected a high-quality A/V company to execute the event for us. Consequently, you will have an opportunity to access GLAAWC 2020 on various platforms. More to come on this note.

Visit to register and for updates. Complete the informational contact form to receive notifications on new developments and look for us on social media. Be sure to like, follow, and share our posts. We will announce our keynote speakers soon too. We are thrilled to announce a partnership with our sister Great Lakes regional sister city, Pittsburgh. As a result, we have some exciting things in store. 

This year we have confirmed the participation of local authors, poets, and journalists. Kima Jones of Jack Jones Literary Arts, an LA-based firm, is back by popular demand! 

We have also hosted an emergent writer workshop series in 2019. In 2021, we plan to launch a stellar virtual quarterly poetry workshop. 

Going virtual will offer many opportunities and blessings. Even so, we look forward to returning to our home at the beautiful East Cleveland Public Library on Euclid Avenue in the years to come. Thank you and I look forward to seeing you in early October.

In 2019, Damon Young of and author of the award-winning book, What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker and Kima Jones of Jack Jones Literary Arts served as out literary and professional keynote speakers, respectively.

In 2018, 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.

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

In the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, home-bound groups need access to intellectual and creative stimulation. GLAAWC and Little Lumpy's Center contribute to the fulfillment of this grave need by going virtual. 

Further, 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.



Guest Speakers $2484.31

Youth Poetry Slam  $2500

Other Affiliated events (Includes Discovering the Writer Within Workshops, book clubs, and local author event) $2500

TOTAL RAISED = $7,623.00 $7,623.00
ioby Platform Fee waived $35.00
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $138.69 $137.64
TOTAL TO DISBURSE= $7,484.31 $7,450.36


Guest Speakers $5000

Youth Poetry Slam $2500

Other Affiliated events (Includes Discovering the Writer Within Workshops, book clubs, and local author event) $2500

ioby Platform Fee     waived
"ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) (Donation processing fee does not apply to match funding.)"    $215
TOTAL TO RAISE =    $10,215
*Donation processing fees apply to donations only. 100% of match funding goes to projects. Please note, fees are estimated here and final numbers may change based on the final amount raised and amount of match funding applied to this campaign.    


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