Our mission at iWRITE is to build student confidence through writing.
Through writing students become more creative and confident, which opens the door to opportunities they never had before.
Every day, we see students struggle with writing confidence. In iWRITE’s home community of Houston and its online community across the U.S., these students are living in some of the country’s lowest-income neighborhoods. In addition, they’re faced with a standardized education that offers limited opportunities for individual growth. Writing skills are critical for any student who hopes to move beyond their economic limitations to conquer their frustrations and discover success in any subject.
Since 2009, iWRITE has developed curriculums that build student confidence and spark students’ imaginations. With creative writing/illustration workshops and publishing opportunities, students move beyond the standardized classroom, learn to express their ideas, and discover their voice.
Children’s author Melissa Williams Murphy originally founded the organization as “READ3Zero,” using her background in psychology and counseling to promote literacy among Houston’s at-risk youth. The popular question that she continued to receive (can kids be authors too?) during her classroom visits inspired the organization’s publishing contest, I Write Short Stories by Kids for Kids. Her writing and publishing exercises resonated with students and motivated her to re-focus the organization’s mission on high-impact writing activities.
READ3Zero became iWRITE in 2016 and launched the organization’s mascot, “i” The Guy, and has used its after-school workshops, camps, journals, a writing and illustration contest, and mentorship programs to help students develop their own creative writing and art skills and experience the feeling of success that comes with becoming an author and illustrator.
A By Kids For Kids Organization
Through its annual writing contest, iWRITE produces an anthology called I Write Short Stories by Kids for Kids, encouraging young writers to submit their stories, artwork, and poetry. In 2019, iWRITE and the Houston Public Library system began working together as librarians from across the city served as judges for the contest. Each year, the judges ultimately select 100 students for professional publication, and those students are honored at an annual book-signing event.
Students also have an opportunity to write for the iWRITER Magazine. Created by the iWRITE Youth Club, the quarterly publication gives students real-world leadership experience by planning each publication, overseeing production deadlines, editing stories, and publishing the magazine.
Meet Our Team
Melissa Williams Murphy founded the organization in 2009 and is a frequent speaker on literacy and has consulted for more than fifty school districts across the country. She has published twelve children’s books ranging from picture books to middle school grade readers. Melissa is a regular correspondent on FOX and ABC News, where she champions the need to keep reading, writing, and creativity inside the home and classroom with a balanced amount of electronic usage.
Nicole Gautier first served iWRITE as a volunteer on its luncheon committee in 2013. With a background in event planning and office management, it was easy to recruit her to join the staff, managing operations, and events in 2016. Nicole is dedicated to giving children an outlet to share their thoughts and feelings and watching them, in turn, learn about themselves and become confident individuals.
Sheri Jacobs is a former secondary ELA teacher and author of the children’s book, DREAM WRITE. Her passion is engaging students’ minds through the power of writing, instilling lifelong respect for one’s imagination and its manifestation through the written word. A lifelong performer, when she is not waxing dramatic for educational purposes, she is giving stand-up routines to family and friends.
Sharon Wilkerson has been with iWRITE since its inception as a part-time freelance editor/graphic designer. She has over twenty years in the publishing business. She joined our staff in October 2021 full time as our Publisher and Systems Manager.
Board of Directors
Founder, Board Chair – Melissa Williams Murphy
Treasurer – Patricia Pratt
Director – Arielle Lawson
Director – Arun Mani
Director – Debbie Pakzaban
Director – Amir Roohi
Mary Lou Hollender
Elaine Balagia Croucher