The Western Massachusetts Writing Project was founded in 1993. The site grew out of an established professional development program begun 20 years earlier by University of Massachusetts English Department faculty and initially funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. This pre–Writing Project program included faculty members working with teachers from Springfield, our largest urban school district, on developing writing programs consistent with emerging writing process theory and research. We grew into an informal regional network, hosted as one of the Five College Partnership programs until becoming an National Writing Project site. Now, as the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, we are one of approximately NWP 200 sites, with the Department of English and College of Humanities and Fine Arts at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as our home base. We appreciate the generous support we receive from both UMass and NWP.
Since our founding as an NWP site, we have grown to become a network of hundreds of pre-K through college teachers serving the urban, rural, and suburban areas of Western Massachusetts from the Berkshires to Worcester through professional development programs for area schools, advanced institutes and conferences, and contracted programs through the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Annually, over a thousand teachers participated in our programs. We are also linked to the Boston Writing Project and the Buzzards Bay Writing Project through the Massachusetts Writing Project state network.
More information on our history is available in The Challenge of Change: Growth Through Inquiry at the Western Massachusetts Writing Project (National Writing Project 2008) at http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/2721.