The Write Field XII

Step up to the academic plate

The Poynter Institute’s Write Field Program, now in its twelfth year, invests in young men in St. Petersburg, Florida, so that they become more confident and knock their school work out of the park. This free, academic year-long program teaches African American and Hispanic middle schoolers how to be better writers, communicators and students. They will study hip hop. They’ll meet a Tampa Bay Ray. With professional journalists as their mentors, they’ll even get better grades.

To participate in the 2022-23 program, please fill out the Commitment Covenant and the Application/Permission Slip. Email these signed documents to Andrew DeLong at by Sept. 2, 2022.

Founded in 2011 to address the achievement gap in local schools, the program meets one Saturday each month during the school year. Over the course of 10 Saturdays, the boys meet with local journalists, community officials, professional athletes and business leaders to reinforce the communication skills they will need to complete high school and succeed in whatever they pursue next.

Schedule for 2022-2023 school year

We’re talking to video game programmers, professional athletes, comic book writers, graphic novelists, digital marketers, social media influencers and others to make the twelfth year of this program the best yet. Below is a tentative schedule, and it is subject to change:

  • Sept. 10 | Welcome/Opening Day/Overview for Parents and Students
  • Oct. 8 | Writing for the Comic Book World
  • Nov. 12 | Novel Writing
  • Dec. 10 | Meet a Ray
  • Jan. 14 | Public Speaking
  • Feb. 11 | History
  • March 11 | Let’s Make the Book! (Check out the 2022 book.)
  • April 8 | Poetry
  • May 13 | Your Personal Brand and MediaWise
  • June 2 | Graduation
  • June 3 | Goodbyes for Summer

The Write Field impact

In a city with one of the nation’s highest dropout rates, more than two-thirds of the Write Field participants can now boast of higher grades, including straight A’s and dean’s list accomplishments, as well as success with the Florida Comprehensive Test Assessment. In a 2017 study, we found The Write Field boys were doing well in school and advancing to the next grade at a higher rate than their peers.

The Write Field program was featured nationally on PBS and recognized by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in 2014 for its work in helping to reduce the dropout rate, especially among students of color.

Poynter’s 2018 Write Field program culminated on Friday, June 15, 2019, as 25 young men (23 present) graduated from the writing and development program.

Ernest Hooper and Demorris Lee serve as co-directors of the program. Hooper served as an editor and columnist at the Tampa Bay Times before working as the communications director for the American Cancer Society’s Southwest Florida chapter. Lee is a communications coordinator for Pinellas County Schools and a former journalist at the Tampa Bay Times.

Thank you to our sponsors

Poynter thanks the Rays Baseball Foundation for its founding support of this program. We also acknowledge the City of St. Petersburg and Wells Fargo for their sponsorship, which allows Poynter to offer this program at no cost to the boys or their families. We’re grateful for the partnership with the Pinellas County Schools and the St. Petersburg Police Department. Community partners provide special touches for the program, including Sacino’s Formalwear and Global StoryMakers.

Consider a gift to support these students through The Write Field program and help Poynter make a difference in our community. Click here to donate (put “Write Field” in the field for special instructions) or contact Wendy Wallace, director of advancement, at or (727) 553-4311.