When Moustafa first came to WordPlay, he was failing English. Unmotivated and disengaged, he put forth no effort in reading and writing assignments and never raised his hand in class. The son of immigrants, Moustafa straddles two languages, two households, and was grappling with the transition to 7th grade in a new school.


After a fun in-class English project led by WordPlay staff, Moustafa decided to try the after-school program, WordUP, held in a converted teacher's lounge within the school. He attended WordUP each week for a month before approaching the program leader to ask if WordPlay could offer after-school programs 5 days a week—he wanted to come every day. Taking his input to heart, WordPlay expanded after-school programming from one day a week to three. Moustafa attended every session.

He began to read aloud in the reading circle where students, staff and program volunteers dissect relevant issues through shared readings and group discussion. His confidence in reading skyrocketed, as did his writing. Then, one day, Moustafa's teacher came to us to report he had earned a high A grade on his major in-class essay of the semester. Moustafa beamed. By the end of the year, he had pulled his overall grade up to a B.

Moustafa is just one of many talented students who benefit from having WordPlay programs offered directly in their schools. Embedded school programs eliminate many of the barriers students and their families face when it comes to accessing programs at the original WordPlay writing center in Northside.


From the creative Aiken Writers Room to immersive Readers Theater performances to public Poet Trees, WordPlay brings project-based reading, writing and storytelling workshops into classrooms, with partnerships between trained teaching artists and classroom teachers to complement curriculum with the arts.

WordPlay's in-school programs are built around an embedded model, offering a "satellite WordPlay" location in a permanent room within partner schools. We also offer short-term activities to schools on a per-project basis, known as mobile programs.

Regardless of delivery method, one thing is clear: school partnerships exponentially increase the number of students who build skills through WordPlay’s creative programs under the care and attention of WordPlay teaching artists and program leaders. Read on for some examples of WordPlay’s school-based programs.



Through a co-teaching partnership with Cincinnati Public Schools, WordPlay brings the arts into classrooms with a variety of programs. From Readers Theater to Poet Trees, art is incorporated into the curriculum, meeting Common Core standards and keeping students engaged as they learn.


An after-school reading lab piloted at Chase Elementary School, WORDlab provides support for students in grades 3-6 to boost reading proficiency. WORDlab is designed to foster positive feelings about reading and writing as students participate in focused reading activities blended with discussion, writing, visual art and themed movement/play.


The 2017-18 school year marked the first full year of the WordPlay Writers Room, embedded at Aiken New Tech High School. The Writers Room is the hub for a host of WordPlay programs both during and after school, a dedicated space within the school designed to provide equitable access to creative programs from which EVERY student can benefit. Students can attend regular workshops and work on self-directed and group creative projects in the literary arts during in-class collaborations with teachers and in our after school programs.

 The WordPlay Writers Room pilot was made possible thanks to funding from:

Special thanks to our current school partnerships:

Academy of World Languages

Aiken New Tech High School

Chase Elementary School

Cincinnati Public Schools

Parker Woods Montessori

Project Connect

Roll Hill Academy

Sayler Park Elementary

South Avondale Elementary

Taft Information Technology High School

WordPlay's mission is to create spaces for young people to fulfill their potential by discovering, honoring and sharing their voices

Main Office:

2110 Saint Michael Street, Suite 201

Cincinnati, OH 45204

p: 513-541-0930

Northside Writing Center:

4234 Hamilton Avenue

Cincinnati, OH 45223

p: 513-996-0010

WordPlay Cincy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

Funding for WordPlay provided in part by:

Ohio Department of Education.png
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