An Ocean of Possibilities—November Newsletter 2017

An Ocean of Possibilities Across the River

Letter from the Executive Director


Dear MOI Supporters,

This month, the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute made an exciting decision that brings great opportunity to our organization. After four years at our center in St. Paul, MOI will be moving in summer 2018 to the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of South Minneapolis.

At MOI, we are all about amplifying student voice, and as such, we are constantly putting things out into the world—student stories, poems, anthologies, podcasts, and more. If you are our friend on any type of social media, you may know that we have a lot to say. But as we look forward to this move, the Crew at MOI is going to be doing things a little differently—we are going to listen, and we are going to listen deeply.

In early 2018, we will be embarking on a listening tour of our new community to understand their needs related to literacy, writing, and free programming for youth. We will be talking to school staff, community members, and most importantly, the students and families we hope will join our programming.

We have a lot to offer as we look to drop anchor in this new community, but we also know that our programming may need to make some changes to fit the needs of our new neighborhood. So here are some of the questions we will center our conversations on:

  • How can caring volunteers from the community support the students of Cedar-Riverside?
  • What free programming outside of school would benefit the students of Cedar-Riverside?
  • How can MOI best support the schools in South Minneapolis in regards to literacy and creative writing?
  • And most importantly: What stories do students in our new community have to tell, and how can we best help them tell their stories?

As always, and especially at this time of year, we are thankful for the current MOI community of staff, volunteers, schools, teachers, families, and students, and we can’t wait to take you all with us on our journey to our new home. In the meantime, if you have connections in our new neighborhood, consider introducing us.

There’s an ocean of possibilities across the river—come find them with us!

With gratitude,
Samantha Sencer-Mura

Porthole into Programming

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The MOI Crew is awash with excitement over the launch of two programs this month!

You can catch us every Tuesday and Thursday at John A. Johnson Achievement Plus Elementary from 12:30–1:30 supporting Ms. Lemke’s and Ms. True’s classrooms as students develop a portfolio of pieces destined for our Young Authors’ Book Project manuscript. We are still looking for a few more deckhands to volunteer. Contact our Program Director, Cross, at for up-to-date info on how to be involved. Currently, students are navigating opinion letters around the issues of the ethics of zoos, the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the use of culturally rooted mascots.

Every Monday and Wednesday we set sail just a few stops up the Green Line to the High School for Recording Arts to work with students on drafting and writing pieces to be turned into podcasts. This is an awesome chance to blend a variety of visual, audio, and written storytelling genres to create unique products students will be proud to share. Contact if you are interested in supporting a small group of students with this flexible project model.

Call to Action

In the News

Our Young Authors’ Book Project guest author, Danez Smith, is doing great things! They were a National Book Award finalist, led a writing workshop at 826 Chicago, and were featured in the New Yorker, just to name a few. We can’t wait to see them speak to the 5th graders about “imagination—its role in repairing and sustaining communities, and in making the world more bearable.”


On November 16, MOI participated in Give to the Max Day, Minnesota’s largest day of online giving. We raised over $12,000 and met our matching gift of $10,000, for a grand total of over $22,000 raised! These funds will help keep the seas calm as MOI moves to our new location. Didn’t get a chance to participate in the Give to the Max Day madness? Don’t worry—you can still donate to the #MOIVoyageFund!

Student Spotlight

It’s getting colder out but that hasn’t lowered our students’ spirits! Read a haiku a 5th grader wrote about something she’s thankful for—ice cream!

Ice cream and whipped cream
Vanilla ice cream sundae
Strawberry ice cream