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Style Magazine

Capitol City Young Writers

Aug 30, 2010 05:00PM ● By Style

Photo by Dante Fontana

In a time of funding shortfalls, artistic programs for kids are quick to meet the sharp, unforgiving edge of the proverbial “cutback” ax.

And while certainly not immune to monetary woes, the Capitol City Young Writers (CCYW) poses a creative solution to this ongoing challenge. The goal of CCYW, a non-profit organization located in El Dorado Hills, is to educate local youth – an inquiring collective of regional talent – about the craft of writing through a combination of workshops, online tutorials, mentorship, scholarships and internships, while also providing them with a collaborative platform from which to pursue their literary dreams using knowledge and reality-based skills gleaned from this progressive program. CCYW has a youth advisory board, produces a member-run literary journal, and requires active group participants to mentor their peers.

Youth in grades 6-12 are invited to join CCYW, but younger children who have not yet reached participation age are encouraged to sign up for the group’s newsletter, which spotlights editorial news, articles and future opportunities. CCYW members meet on five different Saturday mornings throughout the school year, and are invited to attend a week-long workshop and/or a one-day conference during the summer. These opportunities are not only structured and supervised, but also supplant the unfortunate depletion of arts programs in schools.

“I’ve had numerous parents come to me desperate to find someone to guide their children who love to write; several of these kids have written several manuscripts by the time they are 15 years old,” says CCYW Founder and President Verna Dreisbach, who adds that a supportive but constructive environment nurtures aspiring writers to maximize their talent. “Typically, parents of a kid with passion, and quite possibly, real talent, don’t know where to turn. But if we tell kids to do what they love, then we also need to give them the tools and resources to do so. Kids receive recognition for their interests through CCYW.”

From a practical standpoint, the real world application of knowledge that CCYW offers group members is priceless and uncommon in that it positions them for both short- and long-term success. “By combining education with opportunity, kids develop a greater sense of self-confidence as they grow and develop,” explains Dreisbach. Prospects include editorial internships with publishing powerhouses, such as Chronicle Books in San Francisco and Hachette Books in New York. These placements give would-be writers a birds-eye view into the systems and procedures of a competitive industry, the skills required to advance in the field, a leg up on the competition when the time comes to apply for a college internship, and later – a job.

Get involved with CCYW as a group member or a member of the community. Monetary donations benefit the costs of programming, and editorial support is always needed. Published authors or those in a related field are welcome to contribute to the newsletter and/or attend meetings.

For more information or to get involved, visit