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Strengthening the Identity of a Remarkable Organization

13 years of extraordinary material

Founded in 1998, Girls Write Now is the first organization in the country that uses a writing and mentoring model exclusively for girls.

Over the years, Girls Write Now has grown from a grassroots collective into a nationally recognized organization with a small but dedicated staff and a highly structured corps of passionate, loyal volunteers. But by 2011, demand for the organization's services was at an all-time high, and it was in need of corralling a voluminous archive of work collected from years of writing workshops, public readings and published annual anthologies. Girls Write Now had reached a defining moment: would they develop the right tools to grow, or maintain the status quo and risk stagnation?

Clarity that lets content shine while the organization grows

Siegel+Gale conducted a rigorous analysis of the organization and interviewed mentors, mentees, board members and other key stakeholders. The findings showed that Girls Write Now faced a communications challenge, but it was one of structure—not content.

A key question arose: how could Girls Write Now grow while maintaining the intimacy and sense of connection that made it a success?

We determined that what Girls Write Now needed most was a strategic platform. The platform distills every facet of Girls Write Now, from their deepest beliefs to how they express them, into a purpose, a promise and an organizational voice. It provides criteria for creating and evaluating communications, guides how they organize their programming and archive their content, and informs how they choose to grow. It’s the foundation for long-term success.

After extensive consideration, we developed Girls Write Now's promise: “Writing the future, one girl at a time," and defined its values as community, passion, exploration, expression and structure. We also determined that its voice was lively, thoughtful and gutsy. The platform clarified Girls Write Now’s identity in the marketplace so that everybody could see the organization through a clear lens.

Next, we tackled the messaging strategy, the goal of which was to tune Girls Write Now’s story to the right pitch, and make sure the most essential information was front and center. The messaging had four pillars: community (“creativity is a communal enterprise”), mentoring (“learning beyond craft”), writing (“writing for life”) and women (“women inspiring women”). With these messages in hand, the organization would be able to more clearly communicate what and who it was.

Finally, we created a sitemap and wireframes for a new website structure, providing them with the blueprint to move forward when they were ready to build a new site.

The future is now

Three years later, Girls Write Now has expanded significantly, almost doubling its staff, and continues to be nationally recognized. A new website launched in November 2012, showcasing mentees’ remarkable writing and accomplishments and bringing together the entire Girls Write Now community in an easy-to-navigate, highly interactive and engaging experience. Expanding on Siegel+Gale's strategic recommendations, Girls Write Now also went on to produce its first stand-alone Annual Report, plus a suite of new promotional materials with consistent messaging and visual branding. Siegel+Gale continues to be a vital partner to Girls Write Now, helping to shape its evolving communications plan.

Amazingly, 100% of Girls Write Now's seniors graduate high school with portfolios, awards, scholarships, new skills and a sense of confidence. Mentees from the class of 2012 won an astounding 27 regional and national awards in the Scholastic Arts & Writing competition, along with full college scholarships through the Posse Foundation and Questbridge, among others. Girls Write Now has been twice recognized by the White House, by the New York Times, NBC Nightly News and supported by the MacArthur Foundation-funded Hive Learning Network. In 2012, Youth, I.N.C. honored the organization as one of the most enterprising nonprofits improving the lives of New York City Youth.

“Siegel+Gale has been a tremendous supporter of Girls Write Now, and I can’t thank the team enough for their thoughtful dedication to this project,” said Maya Nussbaum, founder and executive director of Girls Write Now. “Our new strategic platform, messaging and website have enabled us to expand our mission to ensure that the unique, remarkable voices of girls from across New York City’s high schools are heard.”

Note: Siegel+Gale did not design the logo. It was designed by Tyler Cole.

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