Turn 250 Philadelphia kids into comic book writers

by Mighty Writers

After more than a year, we can officially say: we did it!

Thanks to your help, Mighty Writers has taken our programs to a brand new level.

With your help, we piloted our initial MIGHTYVISION comic book workshop program from Summer 2011 through Spring 2012. The project earned us a citywide reputation in delivering impactful, engaging and fun comic book workshops, and our teaching artists have since been contracted by local libraries and our city’s “ArtsRising” initiative to deliver comic book programs in local schools and libraries for hundreds more city students.

All told, we reached more than 250 Philadelphia kids, in our own spaces and occasionally in their classrooms, with comic book programming. It was our goal to reach 250, and we're thrilled to say we not only met that goal but surpassed it, thanks to you.

The need for no-cost writing programs is not going away. In our city, half of our working-age population—every second person you see around the city—is battling illiteracy. This problem can't just fix itself.

Now that we've attracted more kids to our writing programs, through the draw of comic books, and since we've engaged those kids to become more active, confident and competent writers in our comic book workshops, what's next?

First, we'll serve more kids than ever (1,250 or more this year!) in our South Philadelphia headquarters at 15th and Christian streets, through our afterschool Academy, themed writing workshops, SAT prep, Teen Scholars program and mentorships.

And since moving out of our temporary MIGHTYVISION space at 641 South Street, we've opened yet another satellite center across town—this time at 1537 South Street.

There, we're launching Mighty Writers 2.0—an initiative to offer new media and technology workshops to get city teens learning, writing and getting their thoughts out into the public sphere, whether it's on a computer screen or a smartphone. Teens will work together to build apps, blog, learn how to use social networks for good, and produce multimedia content to be featured on two brand new youth media outlets—the Mighty Post website and (internet-based) Mighty Radio station. All of this is launching toward the end of the September, in just a couple short weeks.

We're looking to expand our services into West Philadelphia by 2013 and we're focused on engaging more kids and teens from Philly's Latino community.

Oh, and we're working with the Anderson Monarchs, a baseball team of 11-year-olds (who are now Mighty Writers) that recently barnstormed the country on a 4,000 mile bus tour to honor the Negro Leagues. We armed every kid on the team with a journal, and we plan to help them publish a book on their experience this winter.

Your support makes all of this possible. Please keep an eye out for more projects posted by us (SOON!) on GlobalGiving.


P. S. A few reasons that kids and teens in Philly, often by way of their parents or teachers, continue to sign up for free writing programs (including comic book programs) at Mighty Writers:

“My son has never been in a program where he said he feels like he belongs. He's becoming a better team player by interacting with members of your program. He has begun to write more often and uses his writing to express good and bad memories. This program is having a positive impact on his self-esteem.” —Ryekisha Coffie, mother of an 8th grader at C. W. Henry & Mighty Mural Project participant

“I feel that improving my writing will allow me to express myself with greater freedom. Coming from another country sometimes causes me to think too much rather than just writing. I would also like to interact and learn from other people.” —Yan, a 10th grader at West Philadelphia High School & Teen Scholars program participant

“My son Taj and his friends have been working on a comic book of their own all year. He loves comic books and has even created his own characters. I know he'll love this.” —Darlene Turner, mother of a 7th grader at KIPP West Philly & Writing Comic Scripts participant

“Nala has struggled with her writing this school year. By signing up for these workshops, we have strong faith that she will learn to love writing and gain the confidence she needs.” —Shahada Monson, mother of a 6th grader at Ann B. Anderson & Miss Write Now participant

Mighty Writing Dudes
Mighty Writing Dudes
Where It All Started
Where It All Started
A Mighty Group
A Mighty Group
Wait, Writing Can Be Fun?
Wait, Writing Can Be Fun?
Volunteer Power
Volunteer Power


MW Kids at Wizard World
MW Kids at Wizard World

This spring, we've been all about taking our comic book initiative "on the road."

It started with a two-month comic book residency in four 5th grade classrooms at Grover Washington Junior Middle School in the Olney section of Northeast Philadelphia. Comic book teaching artist Asher Humm, who got his start leading a workshop in our MIGHTYVISION space, led the classes through April and May. It was a great experience made possible by Philadelphia's "ArtsRising" initiative.

Thanks to some Mighty friends at the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, MW kids were in the house for the Philadelphia premiere of The Avengers in May. And next up was a trip to the Wizard World comic convention in Philadelphia the first weekend in June. A few Mighty kids spent the day poring over old (and new) comics, getting advice from professional writers and artists, spotting celebrities (Stan Lee! Patrick Stewart! Jason Priestley... ?), and posing with superheroes.

Also in June, another school sought out our comic book programs for an in-school residency. This time, it was Camden's Promise Charter School just over the Ben Franklin Bridge. We taught four workshops for the school's Language Arts Day:

  • Hot Topics for Teens - Grade 8
  • Sportswriting - Grade 7
  • Writing My Neighborhood - Grade 6
  • Comic Madness - Grade 5

Now, we're gearing up to bring it back home with two comic book classes at our South Philly headquarters this summer: a Tuesday afternoon Comic Book Club for 9-to-11-year old led by Janelle Smith, and Writing Comic Scripts for the older kids (ages 12 and up) with veteran writer Hayden Mitman.

You can check out all of our summer classes here: http://www.mightywriters.org/writing-workshops/.

Thanks for your ongoing support!

MW at The Avengers premiere
MW at The Avengers premiere
MW in Camden
MW in Camden
Advice at Wizard World
Advice at Wizard World


Creating a Comic Universe
Creating a Comic Universe

We've been open and operating at the MIGHTYVISION comic book center for almost 9 months now, thanks to your help. Here are some "Quick & Mighty" stats:

  • From July 2011 to March 2012, we've worked with almost 200 Philly kids in 15 FREE, long-term (meaning 4-8 sessions per workshop) comic book writing workshops in one of our two locations (641 South, 1501 Christian) and "on the road" in local schools and libraries.
  • Nine of the classes took place at MIGHTYVISION, 641 South Street.
  • Of the participants, 35% were female and 65% have been male. 
  • Participating students represented more than 50 Philly schools (public, private, charter, parochial, cyber, homeschool).

After our last round of classes at MIGHTYVISION, we sent out a post-session email to capture testimonials from parents and gauge their satisfaction. Responses were overwhelmingly positive. See for yourself!


“Sam thoroughly enjoyed his experience at Mighty Writers and can't wait to begin again. In fact, on a recent new school application, Sam wrote about his ‘hobby’ at Mighty Writers and his goal of completing a graphic novel.” –Mother of Sam, 10th grade, participant in Writing for Comics: Finding Your Voice

“My son really enjoys your comic workshops. His favorite was when you took superheroes and made them into scientists. He was also taught how to do two-point perspective, which he loved. Kumasi loves comics and has a passion for superheroes and drawing. I know if more classes are offered, he will attend.” –Mother of Kumasi, 8th grade, participant in Manga Basics and Creating a Comic Universe

My son (age 8) really enjoyed the workshop. He liked learning from a professional in the field, who kept the classes at a level where he could learn and excel. He is interested in taking more workshops on cartooning.” –Mother of Harry, 2nd grade, participant in Comics for Beginners: Panels & Pages

“From a mom’s point of view, anything to get these kids to enjoy writing is great! At their school, they only do writing to take the PSSA, which means it’s all passage analysis. Zero is devoted to creative writing. I wouldn’t be surprised if the kids are afraid to do it at this point.” –Mother of Jeff, 2nd grade and Peter, 5th grade, participants in Creating a Comic Universe

“Donnell came home and, before I even asked, said, ‘It was great, Mom.’ I know he is already on board for being there next Sunday. Thank you for the opportunity.” –Mother of Donnell, 10th grade, participant in Writing for Comics: Finding Your Voice

“My daughter, Chiara, thoroughly enjoyed her Sunday afternoons at Mighty Writers and is very sad that the final session is tomorrow. (We both hope that there will be more workshops in the spring.) Our thanks to you and the entire staff for making such a worthwhile contribution to the lives of young people.” –Father of Chiara, 4th grade, participant in Creating a Comic Universe

“I want to be a cartoonist. I like to draw cool characters, smart characters and funny characters. I’ve been a part of the program for a long time.” –Mukhtar, 6th grade student, participant in Comic Madness and Creating a Comic Universe

“My son Jordan enjoyed the program. It was a safe and good environment where children could be creative.” –Mother of Jordan, 3rd grade, participant in Comics for Beginners: Panels & Pages

 “I love when she brings home the books that Mighty Writers publishes at the end of the workshops. Naadiyah watches me read the stories, poems or comics in anticipation of my ‘Mighty Mom Seal of Approval.’ Let me say for the record that I am impressed by the work of all the students they all seem to create excellent work that expresses and shows their individuality.” –Mother of Naadiyah, 5th grade, participant in Comic Book Club


This summer, we're planning to relocate MIGHTYVISION west of Broad Street in Philadelphia--closer to our other center. There, we will offer hands-on training for city teenagers in comic book, video and digital media. Programs will improve literacy and technology skills, encourage entrepreneurship and prepare students for careers.

We still need your support and advocacy. Thanks for helping us get here!

The Mighty Dr. ZigZag
The Mighty Dr. ZigZag

Thanks to you, more than 50 Philadelphia kids have taken comic book classes at MIGHTYVISION this fall. Our classes, taught by professional comic book writers, artists and enthusiasts, included Manga Basics, Writing for Comics: Find Your Voice, Mini-Comics for Girls and (our Mighty popular Sunday afternoon class) Creating a Comic Universe.

Kids from near (South Philly, West Philly, Center City) and far (Philly suburbs, South Jersey, North Jersey, the Poconos) have dreamed up their own comic stories and created their own characters. Everyone's artistic skills were put to use. Next, the characters were given their own names, identities, histories and storylines. Comic book pages were fleshed out and turned into stories.

As you'll see from our pictures, every kid who takes a class at MIGHTYVISION ends up a comic book writer, and a better writer to boot.

We've also had the privilege of connecting with local comic professionals who have donated original pages for us to display. We even had three eBay auctions of original comic art and collectibles. Proceeds from these fundraising auctions and exhibitions and donations from friends like you have enabled us to establish a unique and inviting comic book center for kids at 641 South Street in Philly. Thank you!

Kids at Work
Kids at Work
Mighty Comic Creators
Mighty Comic Creators
Mighty Ishmael
Mighty Ishmael's Character


Although we posted a project report last week, I wanted to share two recent articles about MIGHTYVISION with you.

In the first article from the Philadelphia Inquirer, David Brown writes about his firsthand knowledge of the positive impact comics can have on young people (and people of all ages). In the story, he mentions the work Mighty Writers has done, and the work we continue to do with comics at MIGHTYVISION.

In the second article featured in the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, and subsequently on the Huffington Post, Temple University student Peak Johnson visits our writing center at 15th and Christian Street and comic center at 641 South Street. He talks to kids and captures the atmosphere at both centers.

Hope you enjoy, and thanks for your support.

With any questions, feel free to email mleyman@mightywriters.org.



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Organization Information

Mighty Writers

Location: Philadelphia, PA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.mightywriters.org
Mighty Writers
Project Leader:
Maggie Leyman
Development Director
Philadelphia, PA United States

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