April Newsletter: Poetry, Volunteers, and Events—Oh My!


April (snow) showers bring May flowers—and events!


Letter from the Executive Director


Dear MOI community,

Recently, in the midst of poetry mania for National Poetry Month, one of our students sat down at the Writers’ Table. She made a poster explaining different “litary devises” one can use when writing a poem. Once completed, she put this poster up above the Writers’ Table for other students to use. This poster is still there, and it reminds our young authors about the power of alliteration and onomatopoeia (spelled correctly on the first try!).

Completely unprompted by MOI staff, without waiting for adult contribution or input, this student saw a way she could make a positive contribution to our community, and just went ahead and did the dang thing. She wanted to make a change, and she didn’t wait.

All over the world, young people are proving that they will not wait. Students in Parkland are not waiting as they raise their voices demanding gun control reform. More locally, our students are organizing around school budget cuts; they will not wait for the school system to give them the education they deserve.

These young people don’t need our inspiration or ideas, they don’t need our approval or sign-off, but they do need adults to be coaches, ralliers, supporters, editors, and collaborators. April is also National Volunteer Month, and the MOI staff and I would very much like to thank all of you who have already stepped up to play that part for our students. You too have not waited; you too have raised your voices. In 2018, over 300 adults from our community have either given their time, their money, or often both, to our students.

At this moment in time, the best thing we can do is give students the tools to change the world. MOI is here to stand beside our children, to offer them the critical communication, writing, and storytelling skills that will empower them throughout their lives. Thank you to those of you who have already joined us in this work.

And if you haven’t yet had to the opportunity to be a part of our crew, donate today to our Voyage Fund. We're setting sail for a new home in South Minneapolis this summer, and our students are the ones steering.

That’s all for now. I have some young authors I need to talk to, and they won’t wait.


Porthole into Programming


April was awash with awesomeness and student activism! Our After-School Homework Help oceanographers sailed through National Poetry Month at our Writers’ Table covering topics like colors, opposites, and their own futures. Check out this verse from 8th grader Hodan:


Let There be rights for

People. Let there be

No war. Let there be no

Trump. Let there be no

Bombs in the world.

Let there be free

Parking lots. Let

There be human


While MOI HQ hosted students penning powerful poems, our crew also returned to visit another group of poets from John A. Johnson Achievement Plus Elementary (JAJ) over in East Saint Paul. JAJ 5th graders are the authors of this year’s Young Authors’ Book Projecttitled The Bold, Untold North: Nonfiction Poems by the Scholars of John A. Johnson. As a capstone to their poems celebrating Minnesota wildlife, JAJ scholars had the chance to learn how to perform their poetry with strong breath and nuanced emotion from celebrated Saint Paul poet, Danez Smith.

Ready to catch some of our students’ great lines? Put X’s on your calendar for May 21st and May 31st! May 21st will be our chapbook release and end-of-year celebration at MOI HQ. Students, families, volunteers, and staff will have a chance to hear student readers and “sea” a showcase of pieces from the Writer’s Table. May 31st is our public release party for The Bold, Untold North at Caydence Records & Coffee in East Saint Paul. Come hear our JAJ scholars perform their pieces and stick around to get your copy signed by the poets!

In the News

Article: "Young Writers Need to Believe Their Stories Matter"
This impactful article points out the importance of teaching students that their stories and voices matter. As long as MOI's doors are open, we'll hold space for students and their stories.  

Set Sail with Us

As you may know, MOI will be setting sail for South Minneapolis this summer! As we prepare for our big voyage, we're diving for support. Your donations will ensure our space has an open tutoring floor, a fully-stocked library, and the oceanographic store of your dreams!

Upcoming Events!


The Bold, Untold North Release Party & Reception
Join MOI and the young authors of John A. Johnson on Thursday, May 17 from 5:00 to 6:30 pm to celebrate the release of The Bold, Untold North. This year's Young Authors' Book Project is an anthology of nonfiction poetry about Minnesota species and biomes, and the authors can't wait to share them with you. The event is free and will feature readings, light refreshments, and autographs.

Chapbook Release Party
Students who attend After-School Homework Help work at the Writers' Table all semester to write and edit original pieces, which we bind in-house to create a semi-annual chapbook. Join us on May 21 from 4:00 to 6:00 pm as we celebrate the successes of the semester with writing prompts and readings by the authors themselves.


The Bold, Untold North Reading and Reception

After a year of hard work, The Bold, Untold North is ready to be read and celebrated! Join us for an official reading and reception of the book on May 31 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. The young authors had a workshop with Danez Smith to work on their performance skills, and will use their new skills to read their pieces to an audience. Refreshments will be provided.

Student Spotlight

In My World

by Rihanna, grade 4

in my world kindness would

be a law

in my world the lake would be clean

as a fancy restaurant.

in my world the sun would shine like

a thousand stars shining in the night.

in my world the beautiful sunset would shine


in my world there would be a solar eclipse

every night when the moon blocks the sun

and stars and planets all behind it.

Field Trip Thank You

by 3rd grade Storytelling & Bookmaking Field Trip student


Happy National Volunteer Month to all our volunteers! The work you do is appreciated!

Now Hiring: AmeriCorps VISTAs


This is Natalie, MOI's Volunteer and Evaluation Coordinator! Natalie collects data, trains volunteers, supports with programming, and is an all-around invaluable part of the MOI crew! She's also an AmeriCorps VISTA, which means she works full time at MOI to alleviate the opportunity gap our communities face. Are you interested in supporting MOI's mission by working with students, families, and the MOI crew? Do you love writing? Want an opportunity to gain experience and have a leadership role in a small nonprofit? If any of those sound like you, consider applying to work at MOI next year. And keep an eye out for a second VISTA position, coming soon.

P.S. Thanks for sticking with this extra-packed newsletter! We appreciate you!