National Writing Project

Celebrating 40 Years of Writing and Innovation

Date: September 18, 2014

Summary: Beginning this summer we are celebrating the rich, 40-year history of the National Writing Project. We're not only looking back through the years to that first summer institute in 1974, but also looking forward to the innovation and possibilities to come in writing and education.


A Look Back

In 1974, Jim Gray and his colleagues convened the first summer institute of the Bay Area Writing Project at UC Berkeley—the very first writing project site—with two dozen teachers. Over the years, these educators promoted a radically new vision of professional learning, one that has taken root across the nation. Thanks to their hard work, and the talents and efforts of nearly 100,000 teacher-leaders throughout the U.S., we have generated a national network of sites which have served more than two million educators, pre-K through University, and across the curriculum.

NWP Archives Project

In partnership with The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, NWP has launched the NWP Archives Project to ensure preservation and accessibility of NWP organizational records, publications, and resources, including more than 100 oral history interviews from founding Writing Project site directors, scholars, teacher-leaders, and funders. The NWP Archives will provide a rich resource for all who are interested in the history of literacy and, in particular, composition and rhetoric, and the role of teacher leadership and professionalization in the United States, as well as the spread of the NWP model to a range of international locations.

Your support for the NWP Archives Project can help us preserve critical artifacts and documents from our rich history before they are lost. To donate to the NWP Archives Project, visit the NWP Contribute page and select NWP Archives as your designation.


Our NWP and "40 for 40"

For 40 summers, NWP sites have welcomed new cohorts of teacher-leaders, and those teacher-leaders have in turn created the NWP. Every summer and every site is particular, local, built by its leaders. At the same time, every site is sustained by and contributes to our 40-year history.

In celebration of our 40th anniversary, Our NWP opened with "40 for 40," a collaborative writing project intended to launch a collective and public memory of "our NWP." Forty teacher-leaders and directors from around the country wrote to the theme "Our NWP." Beginning June 23, 2014, one piece was posted every day for 40 days using the hashtag #40for40.

Do you have an NWP story to tell? Submit your 500-1000 word blog post to We will continue to tell the story of Our NWP throughout the year.

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