Writers in the Schools

Writers in the Schools (“WITS”) engages children in the pleasure and power of reading and writing. WITS writers work in year-long programs in over 350 classrooms in the Houston region to help students develop their creative and analytical thinking skills. With a focus on at-risk, inner city students, WITS also offers workshops in art museums, hospitals, community centers, private schools and juvenile detention centers.

NPI Rating: BUY

Writers in the Schools has been able to develop a successful program that serves as a model for other organizations around the country. The organization has also become mostly self-sustaining. Providing additional transparency around the number of beneficiaries served and publishing additional impact of its programs would further underscore WITS’ positive impact in the Houston region.

STRENGTHS

  • Successful program model emulated throughout the United States. Named the #1 literary arts organization in Texas, WITS also leads the WITS Alliance, which is a national initiative that mentors similar writers-in-schools programs around the country.
  • Revenue from program fees offset cost of programs. Program revenues comprise 73%, 71% and 55% of total WITS revenue in 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively. WITS programs are partially subsidized by the fee revenue generated from its WITS programs and Government Grants and Other Contributions only make up a minority of support for WITS.

CAUTIONS

  • Number of beneficiaries served per program is unclear. Although WITS mentions that it serves approximately 20,000 K-12 students and teachers, WITS does not publish the number of students and teachers benefitting from each of its program areas. This makes it difficult to determine the cost of providing each of the services to the respective beneficiaries and the efficiency of its model.
  • Lack of publicly shared proven results to beneficiaries. Although WITS has published results stating that a select group of its program attendees outperformed their non-WITS counterparts for a four year time span, after speaking with WITS management, the organization disclosed that it has an additional 12 years of independent studies. We encourage WITS to share these program results, which WITS is planning on doing by publishing an impact section on its website in 2013.

 

Download the full research report in PDF format here: NPI Evaluation of Writers in the Schools.

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