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Best Place for a Writer to Volunteer Time and Talent Dallas 2003 - Kids Writing Connection at John F. Kennedy Learning Center

For the past nine years, this writing and illustration competition has been making a difference in the lives of students at this mostly minority school in East Dallas by matching them with professionals who mentor them through a semester-long project. The mentors and young writers and artists usually meet for about an hour each week during the fall, and the work is assembled into a glossy booklet distributed at the program banquet in April. According to KWC founder Larry Estes, "Working with adult professionals helps our young writers develop skills and discipline that they just can't get from normal class work. Moreover, since many KWC participants come from homes where English is not spoken, this program gives them confidence in their abilities. Nearly 100 percent of our winners [three prizes are awarded in both the writing and illustration categories] go on to Talented and Gifted DISD schools. Since most of the mentors return year after year, it's obviously rewarding for them as well." Estes says there's always room for more mentors and those interested should give him a call.

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