First Lady Honors WriteGirl as a Top After-School Arts & Humanities Program

WriteGirl was honored by the White House in November 2013 with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the highest honor such programs can receive in the United States. Executive Director and Founder Keren Taylor and WriteGirl participant Jacqueline Uy personally received the award from First Lady Michelle Obama in the East Room of the White House.

Chosen from a pool of more than 350 nominations and 50 finalists, WriteGirl was recognized for using engagement in the arts and the humanities to increase academic achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment, as well as improve literacy and language abilities, and cultural awareness.

“Studies have shown that students who are highly involved in the arts stay in school l­onger than those who are less involved,” said Mrs. Obama in her speech at the ceremony. “Arts education also leads to better scores in reading and math. And it makes students much more motivated and engaged, period, in school. They come to school more, they set higher goals for themselves, and they have a reason to achieve them because they’re determined to succeed because they’re passionate about something.”

For 12 consecutive years, WriteGirl has maintained a 100 percent success rate in guiding high school seniors in their Core Mentoring Program to not only graduate from high school but enroll in college, a stark contrast to the 50 percent dropout rate at Los Angeles public high schools.

“WriteGirl is about the intersection of creativity and confidence,” said Keren Taylor. We help girls raise their voices and see a clearer vision of their futures where they are the architects. This national recognition is an opportunity for our girls to feel that their voices are heard at the highest level of government in the country. That's powerful.”

The ceremony offered WriteGirl’s youth representative, Jacqueline Uy, an unforgettable opportunity to tour the White House and meet the first lady in a room full of TV cameras. Click here to read 16-year-old’s personal account of her day in the White House.

The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and is presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.