January Newsletter: Say "ahoy" to 2018

A new year brings new opportunities for growth and reflection!

Letter from the Executive Director

“I love all the decorations you currently have, take everything with you when you move.” —MOI Parent

Dear MOI community,

Recently, we held a family focus group with some of the parents whose children attend our After-School Homework Help program. Although we see many of our parents weekly and check in with them informally, it was great to set time aside to have a longer conversation and learn more about their children, their experiences here at MOI, and their hopes for MOI in the future.

We learned that one of our students is writing his own autobiography (no small feat), that our parents would like us to offer students more extended writing projects to work on at home, and that there is a lot happening at MOI that they don’t want to see change at all. A big takeaway for me from the conversation was that as we make some big changes in 2018, we need to make sure we are keeping all the things we already do well.

January is, of course, a time for resolutions. And we as an organization have some big ones this year. We resolve to better involve our families in the decision-making processes of our organization, and that starts with having more conversations like the one we had earlier this month. We resolve to continue to work to diversify our board, staff, and volunteer base to better reflect the students we serve. We resolve to connect in a deeper way with the vibrant literary community here in the Twin Cities. We resolve to engage more high school students in our work, and are excited to announce that we will have a satellite location for our programming in a Minneapolis high school next school year. (Look out for more details on this project and how you can get involved in the coming months)


And finally, as we make these big changes, both geographically and programmatically, we resolve to make sure we are maintaining all the things we have been doing well. In 2018, we resolve to keep the good stuff (don’t worry, the “C horses” will definitely be joining us at our new location in South Minneapolis).


Looking forward to what we can accomplish together in 2018,

Porthole into Programming!


With the new year comes a revitalization of our programs. This January, our programs have been starting up again, one by one.

First, we entered the homestretch with our Podcast Workshop, one of our Creative Writing Workshops in collaboration with High School for Recording Arts. One student in particular is going above and beyond by creating not just a podcast with his work, but also a zine. We love that he's mixing mediums, and the creativity he brings to the project each week inspires the Crew. How can you look at a project in a new and different way this month?

Next, we continued working alongside 5th grade scholars at John A. Johnson Achievement Plus Elementary School for our third annual Young Authors' Book Project. After an electrifying (eel) visit from guest author Danez Smith, the students have moved into a poetry unit. As they write about Minnesota species, we're all thinking about hibernating for the winter…perhaps we could use some "Coats, Hats, and Gloves."

Finally, we're looking forward to the rest of our programs starting up later this month. If you're interested in learning more, check out our website or drop a line to our Volunteer and Evaluation Coordinator, Natalie, at natalie@moi-msp.org.

In the News

Our Annual Report

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Coats, Hats, and Gloves. MOI always supports student creativity and voice, and we especially love seeing students use their voices to spread such an important message! Bundle up!

Another year has come and gone—time flies when you're having fun! Check out our 2016–2017 Annual Report for more information on what we've been up to this year.

Student Spotlight

Sneaky Poem

by Mohamed, 3rd grade

*To be read in a sneaky whisper

I will sneak
for everything,
for everything you think of.
Think of something—
I will sneak for it.
Like phones, Oreos.
Sometimes my brother
helps me sneak.
So what I'm saying is
sneak before you

Super Supporters


Special thanks to our star(fish) supporters this month!

Sara & Mahadev
Sara V.
Kimberly & Todd
Jack L. Peterson & Vanessa McCoy-Peterson Foundation