An Important Message from NYWC

Dear Community, 


It is with a heavy heart that we announce that this summer, after an incredible 22-year run, NY Writers Coalition will wind down operations and cease all programming by Fall 2024. We are deeply disappointed that we won’t be able to continue our work in the years to come, but please know this decision has been made with care.


Like many small nonprofits, NYWC has been struggling to raise enough money to support all of the work we do for some time. While we did successfully pivot and transform our programming online during the pandemic, the current state of arts funding has not matched this growth and, instead, has plummeted. We’ve therefore spent the last few years trying to remake our funding streams, revamp our mission, and reduce our budget, but the challenges of the current philanthropic climate have made many of these options either impossible (operating with a skeleton staff too small to do our work well) or unsustainable (existing in a perpetual state of financial uncertainty while also running virtual and in-person programming). 


We know this is a major loss for our community. As Founder and Executive Director, I personally will deeply miss so much about NYWC. Our work is not just work: It is about making a collective effort to look for what’s good and emphasize that—not only in terms of what is “good” in our writing but within ourselves and each other. When people write together and share their words in a safe environment, deep bonds form. We make ourselves vulnerable and become stronger and more compassionate for having done so.


Although there is much to grieve in making this transition, we also see this as an opportunity to celebrate our powerful work of over two decades. Doing so means recognizing accomplishments such as: 

  • Offering more than 20,000 free workshops in hundreds of locations and programs including Rikers Island, senior centers, LGBTQ communities, youth programs, programs for people with disabilities, the unhoused, residents of supportive housing, hospitals, schools and many more, serving more than 25,000 people.
  • Providing space for more than 400,000 new pieces of writing that have been created in our generative workshops.
  • Publishing more than 50 chapbooks and 5 book-length anthologies of writing in our workshops.
  • Financially supporting writers and teaching artists through salaries and leader stipends amounting to nearly $5 million.
  • Producing the Fort Greene Summer Literary Festival for 15 years, in which  hundreds of young writers read alongside literary icons such as  Amiri Baraka, Jennifer Egan, Jhumpa Lahiri, Sonia Sanchez, Colson Whitehead, and many others.
  • Presenting hundreds of readings and other literary events at venues all over NYC including Greenlight Bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Pen + Brush Gallery, Brooklyn Public Library, Roulette, BRIC, and many more spaces. 
  • Stepping up during the pandemic and serving people all over the world at a time of great distress. We offered virtual workshops, programs, and events—even hosting our trademark free workshops six days a week, three times a day for more than a year. Many of our workshop participants told us that our work was “lifesaving.” 
  • Launching our Black Writers Program, which provided hundreds of free workshops, panels, and events for hundreds of Black writers across the United States, and even the world. This program was designed and supervised exclusively by NYWC’s Black program staff and Teaching Artists. Since its 8-week pilot cycle beginning in October 2020, BWP has hosted nearly 400 overall workshop sessions and 25 panels, book talks, and special events. Across all workshops and events, close to 50% of virtual attendees lived outside the state of New York–including international attendees. 

So much more than what’s above could be included in this bittersweet notice! The run that NYWC has had is nothing short of historic in our field, and we know we will leave a lasting legacy.


NY Writers Coalition will begin winding down in earnest over the next few weeks. After July, we’ll deal with the mechanics of ceasing our operations as a nonprofit, including closing our office and preparing to formally dissolve. All current and future funds raised during this time will go towards compassionate transitional support for our staff, farewell events, and other costs associated with shutting down. 

We understand that our community will be deeply affected by our closing, so we will be offering two virtual “Town Hall” meetings for workshop members to ask questions, grieve, and celebrate with us. The town hall dates are:


  1. Monday, July 15 from 7 -8 PM EST. This session is open to anyone who has participated in NYWC’s workshops. It will be hosted by NYWC Founder and Executive Director Aaron Zimmerman. You can register here.
  2. Thursday July 18, from 7 to 8 PM EST. This session is open to anyone who has participated in NYWC’s Black Writers Program workshops and events . It will be hosted by Program Director, Calley Anderson and Artistic Director, UGBA. You can register here.

In the coming weeks, we will also share a resource list detailing ways to learn about future offerings from NYWC’s workshop leaders, staff, and community at large. Please stay on our mailing list to receive that information soon. As a final farewell, we will host a few events to gather and celebrate our time together. Opportunities include: 

  • A final in-person writing gathering – October 2024, date TBA 
  • An in-person blowout party to celebrate our community and the work of NYWC – October 2024, date TBA

I’d like to close this letter extending my gratitude to the many people and institutions that have made NYWC into a special community.  As the organization’s Founder, I have been lucky enough to work with every staff member, help train every workshop leader, and be supported by every Board member in our history. Thank you as well to all our volunteers, program partners, institutional funders, individual donors, and everyone who has come to workshops and written with us.  


Our organization will continue to have impact—just not in its current form. We have already seen new writing groups starting with our mission, format, and/or general spirit at their core, and we’re so excited to see what grows from the roots of our community. 


None of what we’re seeing transpire in our current arts field is easy to digest. It is natural to begin to feel discouraged or powerless in the face of what feels like an all-out assault on artistry. However, NYWC was originally created to be a safe-space in the midst of tragedy. We ask that as we as an organization wind down, you all remain true to the word “coalition” that has anchored our name. We still remain in this together. Pen to page. Shoulder to shoulder. Relentlessly writing into existence the world we all wish to see. As Toni Morrison said, “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal."


With love and solidarity,

Aaron Zimmerman

Founder and Executive Director