The foundation presently supports nine programs that align to our mission, vision, and values. These programs vary regarding the target markets they serve; some activities are best accomplished on an in-person basis while others work well with more remote stakeholders.
To be considered “local,” the target market includes the Grand Rapids metropolitan statistical area and its environs — the Michigan counties of Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Allegan, Ionia, Barry, Newaygo, and Montcalm. Residents of these counties benefit from these programs:
- Readers & Writers Podcast — This podcast, produced in partnership with WYCE 88.1 FM, features local writers reading their latest works, plus targeted conversations about the craft and business of being a literary professional. This program incurs no material expenses but earns revenue through community donations.
- Creators in Dialogue Series — Pairs (or trios) of authors and poets assemble for a guided conversation about their works, their inspirations, and their creative processes. This program builds on the success of the “Writers Squared” series originally sponsored by the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters (later Write616). Expenses include travel, lodging, meals, and honoraria for the speakers and, as needed, venue fees. Revenue obtains from non-profit grants and community donations.
- LitGR Exchange — LitGR.org is a website running the HumHub open-source social collaboration software. It’s intended to allow members (who may register accounts for free) to post events and network within affinity communities within the platform. This program incurs no material expenses but earns revenue through community donations.
To be considered “regional,” the target market includes any U.S. state that borders one of the Great Lakes — Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. Anyone residing in this region can take part in the following programs:
- Great Lakes Book Awards — The book awards (a more definitive title for the program will be developed later) will recognize top works by emerging writers who are located in the region. Planning is in the early stages, but it’s expected that the top five books by genre category will receive judged awards and the top category winners will receive a targeted residency. Costs are likely to exceed $20,000 with revenue coming from submission fees.
- Grand River Writing Tribe — The Tribe is a collection of in-person and virtual writing groups, affiliated under a single organizational banner so as to share resources and programming opportunities across the groups. Each individual group runs itself but the Tribe as a whole shares a Discord server and a community website. The program is self-funded from voluntary donations from participants; it does not incur material expenses.
- The Critical Acumen Series — This program offers a recurring annual cycle of monthly educational seminars intended to help aspiring writers and poets to better understand the economic and craft implications of writing for a broad commercial audience. The program is self-funded by registration fees and is offered both in-persona and virtually. Content is targeted toward emerging authors and poets, with an emphasis on the core financial interests of a professional literary creator.
- LitBox Mystery Box Program — This program, in partnerships with Lakeshore Literary, Inc., and Jason’s Books & Coffee, Inc., offers back issues of literary journals and various small-press books to subscribers to a monthly “mystery box” product. Proceeds from the subscriptions fund the program, as well as compensating the contributing small presses at 60% of the list price of their content.
- Independent Creator Program — This program offers structural support, including fiduciary agent services, for independent authors and poets who are not affiliated with a non-profit entity or an academic institution but nevertheless pursue specific programs that are eligible for grant money. The foundation serves as custodian of those funds and as the fiscal officer for the grant, thus empowering these indie creators to enjoy the same access to resources as their institutionally positioned peers. The foundation keeps 10 percent of each grant as an administration fee, which funds this program.
- Winnie_Bot — Winnie_Bot is a community software initiative that deploys a bot to Discord servers. This bot helps writers to track statistics, engage in word sprints, and gamify their goals through the earning of “raptors.” Costs are minimal (less than $2,000 annually) for maintenance with offsetting revenue supplied by donations from the user community.