Center of Mexican American Studies
Center of Mexican American Studies

Barrio Writers

Barrio Writers (BW) is a creative writing program founded by author Sarah Rafael García, which provides free college-level writing workshops to teenagers in underserved communities. The program offers workshops and additional one-on-one tutor hours for one week throughout the academic summer break. Students receive college-level workshops to build skills in reading, grammar, creative writing, critical-thinking and freedom of expression through cultural arts (includes diverse languages in reading and writing). The sessions include guest writers, who serve as role models in local neighborhoods and support youth aspirations.

Barrio Writers participants are between the ages of thirteen to nineteen-years-old and reside in the surrounding area of the local chapters. By opening workshops to all levels of students from local schools and neighborhoods, Barrio Writers includes teenagers from diverse circumstances to participate and share their lives with our society. The summer workshops culminate with a live reading, which allows Barrio Writers to present final pieces to our community and reach a wider audience. A key component of the program is to publish an anthology collection of written works demonstrating the diverse backgrounds of teenagers that can be used in and out of the classroom. Barrio Writers is a collection of works by teens for teens, teachers and our communities. All profits from the book are returned to the Barrio Writers program for future years. The long-term goal is to publish a new edition each year with hopes that more neighborhoods will adopt the program and more teachers will use the BW book in the classroom.

The Barrio Writers program thrives through its community collaboration. By aligning with universities and community organizations, Barrio Writers participants are exposed to diverse activities provided in the surrounding areas which support local cultural arts and community resources. In the summer of 2012, Barrio Writers and the Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS) created a partnership which brings the one-week writing program and public reading to the campus of The University of Texas at Austin. This collboration now includes the LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, Resistencia Bookstore, Save Our Youth (a project of Red Salmon Arts), and the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.

CMAS will host the one-week writing program the week of July 9, 2018 and the 8th Annual Barrio Writers Live Reading on Saturday, July 14, 2018. Visit the Barrio Writers-Austin web site for more information, including the event schedule.