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Utah Humanities empowers Utahns to improve their communities
 through active engagement in the humanities

Tween Author Boot Camp Thrills Utah's Aspiring Writers

Where do young, aspiring Utah writers go for inspiration, technical help, and fun? Where can they learn more about the art and process of writing?

The answer is Tween Author Boot Camp!

S ponsored in part by Utah Humanities, the Tween Author Boot Camp is a non-profit event geared to youth ages 9 to 12 years old.

It is formatted like a mini writing conference with classes from favorite authors (including New York Times bestsellers), prizes, and the undeniable energy of hundreds of fellow writers.

Nearly 250 aspiring "tween" authors attended this year's event at the Provo City Library in April. 

Keynote Chad Morris, author of "Mustaches for Maddie," wowed the tweens with his impression of Voldemort. Other authors who participated were Jenni James, Michael Young, Lois Brown, and Ann Dee Ellis.

As part of the conference, 40 tweens participated in a flash fiction writing competition. Flash fiction is a short form of storytelling that challenges writers to tell a complete story in a limited number of words (500 words for this particular competition). This process gives young writers a stimulating and educational opportunity to organize their thoughts, prioritize their story, and clarify their writing. One talented tween won her own Fire Kindle as part of the competition.

The engagement and exuberance of these young writers was evident for the duration of the "boot camp" and they had a lot to say about their experience:

"It was amazing! I was introduced to new books and I loved all of the lectures."
"The classes were so fun!"
"We wanted it to last longer!"

Utah Humanities was thrilled to partner with Tween Author Boot Camp! Together, we helped to provide this hands-on humanities experience. As part of our Center for the Book, we work with organizations across the state to foster a love of books and reading, and this event is a terrific example of how our partnerships strengthen Utah.   

Photos: Nearly 250 aspiring "tween" authors attended this year's event at the Provo City Library in April. Credit: Lois Brown, Tween Author Boot Camp.

Venture Graduation

Inspiring change and helping Utah reach the goal of 66% of its residents earning a post-secondary degree or certification by 2020, our Venture Course in the Humanities is a two-semester, college-level interdisciplinary humanities course for adults living on low incomes.

More importantly, it is a life-affirming experience.

Now in its twelfth year, Venture culminated another successful year-long course with heart-warming graduations at Weber State University and Southern Utah University.

Weber State University's graduation featured five elated graduates and their proud families, along with the supportive faculty they've grown to love.

Providing its graduates with eight college credits, Venture rekindles the dream of college in those whose hopes have faded, excites them about learning, and helps develop the skills and motivation to continue their education and give back to their communities. 

Venture is available through evening courses in South Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Cedar City with partnerships developing in Ephraim and Logan as potential new sites.

This is a tuition-free course that also provides day care, transportation, and books, eliminating common barriers to college attendance for those living on low incomes who are working and/or have families. As a direct result of their Venture experience, approximately 250 adults have entered college, all of whom credit the program for helping them to reach their goals. In fact, a 2017 South Salt Lake City Venture graduate received a full, four-year scholarship to Westminster College, which is a first.

The Venture Course in the Humanities is a Utah Humanities program offered in partnership with Southern Utah University, Weber State University, and Westminster College to provide college-level study of the humanities for nontraditional adult students.

Photos: Venture graduates, their families, Weber State University faculty, and Utah Humanities Venture Program Manager, Josh Wennergren, celebrate another successful year of Venture and especially the accomplishments of each Venture graduate. Credit: Morteza Emami.

Democracy and the Informed Citizen Broadcast

Utah Humanities is participating in the nationwide Democracy and the Informed Citizen Initiative through a grant from the Federation of State Humanities Councils.

We are honored to be participating in this initiative and we look forward to working with many of our partners on events that examine the threads linking  democracy, the humanities, journalism, and informed citizens.

Our first partnership resulted in a riveting and timely Utah Public Radio interview with author and journalist Sonia Nazario.

Sonia is author of the book Enrique's Journey based on her Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper series.

The book recounts the quest of a Honduran boy looking for his mother, eleven years after she is forced to leave her starving family to find work in the United States. Often clinging to the sides and tops of freight trains, Enrique travels through hostile worlds full of thugs, bandits, and corrupt cops. However, he pushes forward, relying on his wit, courage, hope, and the kindness of strangers.

Enrique's Journey is now required reading at hundreds of high schools and colleges across the country.

As it relates to the Democracy and Informed Citizen Initiative, this conversation with Sonia underscores the importance of genuine, hard-won journalism and first-hand reporting of facts and experience.

The San Francisco Chronicle solidified the point by writing that "...for some journalists, research means sitting at a computer and surfing Google....for Sonia Nazario...it means leaving home for months at a time to sit on top of a moving freight train running the length of Mexico, risking gangsters and bandits and the occasional tree branch that might knock her off and thrust her under the wheels. It means not eating, drinking water or going to the bathroom for 16-hour stretches-all in service to the story." 

In addition, the story of young Enrique himself and Sonia's passionate work in obtaining first-hand experience with his journey, opens the door to conversations about immigration, the deep complexities of border issues, and the intensely human impact involved. The Democracy and the Informed Citizen Initiative encourages us to explore challenging topics together, view topics from many differing perspectives, and develop a highly sophisticated awareness of how, and from where, we gain our information.

You can listen to the entire Utah Public Radio interview with Sonia Nazario here and follow the national conversation about what is means to be an informed citizen with the hashtag #InformedCitizen.

We look forward to working with our partners on more of these timely events throughout 2018.

The Federation of State Humanities Councils was awarded $1.7 million by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for this new national grant program, Democracy and the Informed Citizen,  which will examine the critical role of journalism and the power of the humanities to enrich understanding of local and national issues and to inspire an engaged citizenry.

Photo: Sonia Nazario is author of the book "Enrique's Journey," based on her Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper series. Credit: AL.com.

Printed Museum on Main Street Essays Available


Did you know that each time we tour a Museum on Main Street Exhibition through Utah museums, we enlist the expertise of a local scholar to capture Utah's historical and heritage-related connection to the topic?

These publications are upwards of 20 pages in length and provide detailed information, perspective, and photos. They are written by academic scholars and are produced in partnership with the Utah Division of State History.

Our two most recent exhibition tours were Journey Stories and The Way We Worked, and the resulting essays are still available!

If you would like copies of one or both of these publications, please contact Shianne Gray at gray@utahhumanities.org.

Museum on Main Street is a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and State Humanities Councils nationwide. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.

Calling all Book Festival Partners

We are preparing for this year's annual Utah Humanities Book Festival!

Although it is held in September and October, much of the planning and groundwork is done during these early spring months.  If you would like to host events, have ideas for how the book festival can thrive in your community, or have authors in mind, please contact us to begin the planning process.

Michael McLane, who oversees the book festival each year, would love to talk with you about ideas, partnerships, and how best to collaborate. Whether you are a long-time, experienced book festival partner, or are new to literature events, we want to hear from you.

Contact Michael at mclane@utahhumanities.org for more information.

Making a Gift Makes a Difference!

Utah Humanities would like to thank everyone who supports our work, which continues to thrive and grow each year because of your participation and generosity. We are able to empower Utahns to improve their communities through the humanities because of your help.
YOU can continue to make a difference by making a one-time gift, a gift in memory or in honor of someone special in your life, or a monthly sustaining gift to support our work through our secure website by clicking the gift box below!

For more information or to learn about other ways to give, contact Cristi Wetterberg at 801.359.9670 x108 or wetterberg@utahhumanities.org. Your gift in any amount helps to change lives across the state and is 100% tax deductible.

Click the State Icon to See Our Humanities Events Near You

Our events calendar is organized by month, date, and region of the state.

Click the icon to visit our calendar, and remember  to check back often.

There are always new humanities events to attend!

Many Thanks
Utah Humanities is grateful for the generous support of many individuals, foundations, and corporations, and for public funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the State of Utah, and the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts, and Parks Fund.

Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed on this website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.