Ever the Best of Friends

Dear Friends,

joj.jpgIntroducing high school students to the pleasures of reading Dickens has long been an important part of the Dickens Project’s mission. Our hope is that students who learn to appreciate Dickens’s novels will become lifelong readers of his work and of other 19th-century writers.

Since 2015, the Dickens Project and its Friends group have partnered with the Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI) in South Los Angeles to support a program that introduces high school Advanced Placement English students to the book that we study each year at the Dickens Universe.

Students in this under-served community read the novel, perform a multimedia dramatic adaptation, and write interpretive essays. Students who write the best essays attend the Universe, along with two NAI teachers. The Friends of the Dickens Project buy the books and pay for the travel and Universe registrations for the NAI participants. In Santa Cruz, the students benefit from their immersion in the excitement of a world-class academic community. At the same time, faculty, graduate students, and Universe participants learn from the NAI students that Dickens can become relevant for a new generation of readers.

In April of 2022, the Dickens Project piloted a new outreach initiative for high school students in the Santa Cruz area. “A Dickens Day of Writing” is an educational enrichment program designed to help high school juniors and seniors improve their critical thinking and writing skills.

Working with teachers in the local area, the Project developed a curricular unit centered on Dickens’s essay “Night Walks.” The unit included classroom discussions and observational fieldwork exercises that encourage students to reflect on issues of homelessness and poverty in Santa Cruz. The program culminated in a dedicated Day of Writing at the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz that brought 30 participating students together with mentors from the local community for a day of focused essay-writing and revision. Winning essay writers received prizes and became eligible for scholarships to attend the Dickens Universe.

Now, with support from the Friends, the Dickens Project aims to expand this successful pilot program to schools from counties throughout the Monterey Bay area and to make it an annual event.

We ask your help in supporting these valuable projects.

Our NAI partnership and our Dickens Day of Writing are only two of many initiatives of the Dickens Project and its affiliated non-profit group, the Friends. Other ways in which you can support our mission include:

  • Contribute directly to the Friends Endowment Fund that aims to establish a secure future for the Dickens Universe
  • Contribute to a scholarship fund that helps bring California Community College students to the Universe
  • Contribute to a travel fund that helps bring deserving graduate students to the Universe
  • Start a local non-academic Dickens reading circle in your own community

Whichever of these initiatives excites you, please give to the Friends of the Dickens Project so that we can continue to encourage and inspire both future scholars and lifelong learners in their devotion to reading Dickens.

John O. Jordan, Directordonate-now-button.png