Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week


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Thank a Teacher

Whether it’s your child’s favorite teacher or a special educator in your own life, if you’re looking for an easy (but thoughtful!) way to convey your appreciation for the awesome teacher in your life, look no further! Just click, download, and print one of the customizable appreciation certificates below:


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“I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. It might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.” – John Steinbeck


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“A teacher is a compass that activates the magnets of curiosity, knowledge, and wisdom in the pupils.” – Ever Garrison


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“Education is not filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” – William Butler Yeats



“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” – B.B. King

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Meet the University of Chicago Writer’s Studio



Creating a Home for Writers

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Gina DiPonio
Photo Credit Fred Beuttler

We are thrilled to have the University of Chicago Writer’s Studio as a new CLA member! We caught up with their amazing Program Manager, Gina DiPonio, to learn more about their organization, how they hope to work with fellow CLA members, and more.

Tell us a little bit about the University of Chicago Writer’s Studio mission.

The University of Chicago Writer’s Studio strives to be a creative home to writers of all genres and ambitions. We offer noncredit, open-to-all classes, which are mostly downtown, and free events around town including our annual Business of Writing Seminar, semi-quarterly open house/open mics, and regular write-ins. We want to help their students and greater community live the writing lives they imagine (and have fun doing it!).

Why did you decide to join the Chicago Literacy Alliance?

We’re honored to take part in the Chicago Literacy Alliance and connect to so many meaningful, innovative organizations/programs. We know the importance of being an active part of the Chicago literary community and are excited to share ideas and resources as well as create collaborations with other member organizations. Bottom line: The CLA is amazing.

Is there anything you wish more people knew about the University of Chicago Writer’s Studio?

Sometimes people miss the fact that we aren’t in Hyde Park. Our classes and programs are mostly downtown and online. Also, I want to make sure that everyone knows that anyone (over 18) can register for our classes and events. There’s no admission process. That’s what we mean when we say we’re open to all. Finally, I want people to know that we are flexible and eager to try new things. I always tell students that if they wish we were offering or doing something differently, just let me know. We do our best to create the classes, events, and opportunities that our community needs.

What events or programs are you excited about?

This June, we have two events lined up, both of which are free. We’ll be at Printers Row Lit Fest on the afternoon of Sunday, June 10, where our instructors will be presenting three creative-writing mini-lessons (exact time and title TBD). The next weekend, we’re holding a Writer’s Studio Write-In at Gleacher Center, our home base. We’ll be announcing this event and making registration available soon. These always fill up quickly, so please be sure to register early if you’d like to attend.

We’re so excited that in addition to becoming a member, the Writer’s Studio is also becoming a CLA Resource Partner. What are you providing members and what do you hope they’ll gain from the offering?

We’re offering CLA members a 20% discount on all of our classes. We hope that this will help anyone in the CLA who wants to practice or study creative or professional writing do so. Also, we are looking forward to creating programs that hold several spots exclusively for CLA members.

How are you hoping to collaborate with fellow CLA members?

There are so many ways to collaborate, and there is so much to learn! To start, we’re interested in learning more about how to further encourage diversity in our classrooms in terms of student body, especially, as well as faculty, course content, and pedagogy. We’re also eager to devise events with member organizations, which might include co-hosting a reading, panel or open mic (or something else!). In terms of expertise, our instructors are creative pros and we, as a team, bring a great deal of knowledge and ability in terms of creative and professional writing, writing pedagogy, and the publishing world. We’re happy to share that!

April Confab Preview: Meet the Speakers!

April Confab - Chicago Literacy Alliance


April Confab
Wednesday | April 18 | 9AM


Please join us at the CLA Confab with presentations from two incredible member organizations: Pangea Educational Development and Literacy Volunteers of Illinois Looking for a mini-preview of what you can expect? Learn more about our two speakers this month below!


Literacy Volunteers of Illinois - Chicago Literacy Alliance - ConfabDorothy M. Miaso is the Executive Director of the Literacy Volunteers of Illinois, a position she has held since 1992. In her work with the Literacy Volunteers she has been involved with a variety of literacy and national service-related initiatives at the local, state and national levels, and has been involved with correctional education for adults and juvenile at the state and county levels.  Prior to joining the Literacy Volunteers, Miaso served in various capacities in the public sector in government and not-for-profit agencies. She served as the Assistant Director of Operation ABLE, a non-profit Chicago-based employment program for older workers, and, as the Director of Senior Programs in the Governor and Lt. Governor’s offices. She also worked for the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Miaso is a past member of the Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service (who recently named an award after her)and a past board member of the American Association of State Service Commissions, a national organization that provides leadership and support to state volunteer service commissions throughout the country.  She is a member of the Illinois Adult and Continuing Educators Association and the Illinois Conference on Volunteer Administration. Miaso holds a B.A. degree in English/Education from Northeastern Illinois University and a Master’s in Management of Public Service from DePaul University.

Literacy Volunteers of Illinois is a statewide organization committed to developing and supporting volunteer literacy programs that help families, adults and out-of-school teens increase their literacy skills.


Pangea Educational Development - Chicago Literacy Alliance - ConfabDrew Edwards is the Co-Founder and CEO of Pangea Educational Development. He is a research fellow for education in conflict & emergency situations with the Qatar Foundation and has been living and working in Uganda for 7 years. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from DePaul University and is currently a graduate student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Pangea Educational Development is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering schools and unifying communities through sustainable education. Founded in 2011, PED partners with schools in Uganda through three phrases to jointly identify problems, map and implement sustainable projects, and equip them with the tools to manage their program in the future.


Excited to hear more, checking out the Literacenter, and networking with fellow literacy advocates? Join us on April 18th!

10 Benefits of a Shared Workspace

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Whether you’re a part of an established organization with a large staff or you’re a one-person shop just getting your programs off the ground, shared workspaces are a fantastic option for nonprofit professionals looking to collaborate with like-minded peers and increase organizational capacity.
In addition to establishing a culture where it’s a norm to help each other, coworking offers individuals and organizations the flexibility to work independently, hop in a conference room for a team meeting, or organically collaborate around a communal table. Efficiency increases and creativity flourishes when team members have the autonomy to personalize their work environments!
Need more convincing? Check out these 10 statistics about the benefits of a shared workplace:


1. Coworking is good for employee satisfaction. 72% of members of coworking spaces are happy with their current work situation.
2. Happy teams are productive teams! 64% of coworkers are better able to complete tasks on time.

3. Meeting potential donors, volunteers, and program partners in coffee shops doesn’t always lend itself to making the best first impression. 83% of non-profit organizations using a shared workspace report improvements in organizational credibility.


4. Whether it’s the flexibility in working arrangements or the social interactions that shared spaces help facilitate, 70% of people report feeling healthier than they did working in a traditional office setting.


5. The coworking trend is growing! The projected number of members in coworking spaces worldwide for 2018 is 1,690,000 million.


6. This is a gimme, but it’s important to note nonetheless: a shared workspace encourages individuals to see themselves as part of a larger community and helps facilitate organic introductions and professional relationships.


7. The people matter just as much—if not more—as the space. 75% of people choose coworking spaces that have a positive and welcoming community where they can interact with others.

8. Coworking gives non-profits super powers: 83% of non-profit organizations report that coworking has increased their ability to achieve goals.


9. Shared workspaces are good for non-profits’ bottom lines. 75% report more stable costs after moving to a shared workspace.


10. Coworking has benefits beyond the office—60% of those surveyed said they are more relaxed at home since they started coworking.


All said, shared workspaces have a variety of benefits for people in all industries. One of the most salient points throughout the many (many) pieces of research out there is this: community matters. From non-profits to creatives, individuals want to feel as though they’re part of something larger and shared workspaces are a great start.
Check out the featured links throughout this post to learn more about the benefits of shared workplaces or visit the Literacenter to learn more about how we’re bringing literacy professionals from around Chicago together to cowork, learn, and grow.


Meet the Chicago Review of Books



We caught up with Adam Morgan, Editor-in-Chief of the Chicago Review of Books to get the scoop on the organization. Check it out:

The Chicago Review of Books dedicated to making the literary conversation more inclusive by covering diverse genres, presses, voices, and mediums; shining a light on Chicago’s literary scene; and serving as a forum for literature in the Midwest.

Why is it important to shine a light on Chicago’s literary scene?

I honestly believe Chicago is in the middle of its fourth literary renaissance, so I want to help bring our poets and writers into the national conversation. The city has so many great cultural institutions for readers and writers, but I felt it was missing a digital media outlet dedicated to covering the city’s creative output.

Why did the Chicago Review of Books decide to partner with Chicago Literary Hall of Fame for The Evolution of Chicago Comics and Comic Books exhibit and panel?

Diverse genres is part of our mission, so we try to cover comics and graphic novels/memoirs as often as possible (though not as often as we’d like). When the CLHOT approached us about a partnership, it seemed like a no-brainer. They had a lot of historical knowledge about Chicago’s past comic strips and illustrators, and I tried to bring a contemporary angle to the exhibit that would highlight the local writers and artists working today, like Michael Moreci, Ashley A. Woods, Gene Ha, Jenny Frison, Lucy Knisley, Nicole Hollander, Tim Seeley, and many more.


What would you like to collaborate with CLA members?

This is tough! We’re hoping to partner with another organization to provide writing workshops in the future, once we’ve secured nonprofit status and some grants, so learning about program implementation is important to me. It’s also a great networking opportunity for us, to meet like-minded, nonprofit-oriented people in Chicago who love reading and writing.

We’re definitely available to share our expertise when it comes to digital media and digital strategy for smaller organizations on a budget. And we’re always open to using our channels to promote local literary events and initiatives.

Visit chireviewofbooks.com to learn more!