Cleveland journalist Nikki Delamotte may have been gone far too soon, but a band of her colleagues won’t let her be forgotten.
Created in Delamotte’s name, the Write About Now program is set to launch in September as a joint effort between Lake Erie Ink and Cleveland.com. For 10 weeks, 17 high school students will get the chance to be part of a working newsroom and learn from Cleveland.com staff as part of Lake Erie Ink’s first-ever journalism workshop for local youth.
“Cleveland.com reached out to us saying that the staff wanted to honor Nikki in a meaningful way, and Lake Erie Ink had come up as a place she believed in,” says Lake Erie Ink co-founder Amy Rosenbluth. “Together we came up with this idea of a writing workshop, and it feels perfect.”
Nikki giving opening remarks to the teens at Lake Erie Ink's Book Launch of Roots and Branches in 2018 Indeed, the partnership between the two organizations feels like an appropriate way to honor Delamotte, a prolific Cleveland.com reporter who had volunteered in various capacities with Lake Erie Ink since 2014. “She always refused the paltry amounts we tried to pay her,” Rosenbluth says. “Nikki really connected with the work we were doing and was willing to give her time. It was dear to her heart to work with young people.”
According to Rosenbluth, 13 schools will be represented in the inaugural Write About Now cohort, including Urban Community School, Campus International High School, Shaker Heights High School, and Brooklyn High School. All participants will receive a Chromebook laptop for the duration of the session as well as a stipend upon completion.
Rosenbluth says the group has expressed interest in covering topics such as human rights, LGBTQ issues, special needs, and adoption, and they’ll also be able to shadow reporters working on specific Cleveland.com beats (like sports). “Ideally, the goal is for their work to appear on Cleveland.com,” says Rosenbluth.
Delamotte visits Lake Erie Ink's Community Connections camp in 2018It’s a busy time of year at Lake Erie Ink, as the nonprofit’s other programs also kick off in September—including an anthology project, teen writers' group, and comedy workshop. Additionally, Rosenbluth and co-founder Cynthia Larsen just returned from Puerto Rico, where they attended the International Congress of Youth Voices with three Lake Erie Ink teen delegates. Co-founded by Dave Eggers and sponsored by The Guardian, the annual summit focuses on “using your voice and your writing for social justice,” Rosenbluth says.
Closer to home, Rosenbluth is energized by the start of another school year and what the addition of Write About Now will bring to Lake Erie Ink's already packed lineup of creative writing outlets for local youth. "We fit a need for kids who are looking for community more than just an activity [to do]," says Rosenbluth. "Kids tell us time and again that they feel like they fit in here, that they feel like they belong and their stories matter."
We have a feeling Delamotte would approve.
Cleveland.com and Lake Erie Ink are hosting an open house session tonight, Wednesday, Aug. 14, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Though the fall session is full, they will be providing general information about the program and how to get involved for the winter session. For more information, click here.