The Walt Whitman Champions of Literacy Award

The Walt Whitman Champions of Literacy Award was established to recognize the best supporters of literacy in America. Champions of Literacy are people or businesses who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting literacy. Each year honorees are chosen in three categories: Enterprise, Individual Leader, and Literary Achiever (Poet/Writer). A connection to Walt Whitman, known as the Poet of Democracy and acclaimed as “America’s Shakespeare” according to eminent literary critic Harold Bloom, is not required, though it considered a plus.

The WWBA commitment to Literacy echoes the efforts of Walt Whitman

The WWBA Vision for Literacy is implemented through following a rigorous two-part process centered on 1: Student Literacy and 2: Adult Literacy. We aim to create a greater national passion for reading – for children, families and adult learners alike. The result is a personal, effective, and enduring impact on our students and teachers, coupled with increasing appreciation of writing and reading poetry.

Student Literacy

  1. Offering structured literacy practices through a variety of multidisciplinary educational programs for students of all ages. This is accomplished through engaging reading & writing poetry activities, taught by certified teachers and published poets in an enjoyable non-competitive learning environment. Over 7,000 students were served in 2008.
  2. Promoting excellence in writing literacy through our annual Young Student Poetry Writing Contest. Over 4,000 entries in 2008.
  3. Acknowledging excellence in writing literacy through our Young Student Poetry Writing Contest with 5 first place winners & 145 honorable mention winners.
  4. Distributing 150 books as prizes to the Young Student Poetry Writing Contest.
  5. Helping students strengthen fluency, vocabulary and comprehension to become proficient, life-long readers.
  6. Providing resources for teachers, literacy organizations and anyone interested in reading and education.

Adult Literacy

  1. Promoting excellence in reading literacy through monthly poetry readings, book signings, and annual marathon readings of Leaves of Grass.
  2. Promoting excellence in writing through a variety of creative writing workshops including our annual Poet-in-Residence Masters Class in Poetry Writing.
  3. Recognizing national excellence in writing through our annual Poet-in-Residence Award awarded in 2008 to Alicia Ostriker.
  4. Recognizing local excellence in writing through our annual Long Island Poet of the Year Award awarded in 2008 to Susan Astor.
  5. Helping teaching professionals establish/improve good literacy programs and practices, which become the foundation for personal, social and economic success.

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