Jeff VanderMeer tells us that Amazon.com has awarded Shared Worlds, the teen SF/F writing camp, a $15,000 grant. The money will help offer scholarships to needy students.

Here’s the press release:

Amazon.com Awards Grant to the Shared Worlds Teen Writing Camp

Shared Worlds, a non-profit science fiction/fantasy teen writing camp hosted by Wofford College (Spartanburg, South Carolina), has been awarded an Amazon.com grant of $15,000. The Amazon.com grant will help support the 2011 camp in the areas of guest writer invites, awarding scholarships for disadvantaged students, and general operating expenses. Shared Worlds 2011 will be held the last two weeks of July, marking the camp’s fourth year of operation.

Founded in 2008 by director Jeremy L. C. Jones, Shared Worlds is a unique summer camp for teens (rising eighth through twelfth graders) from across the country that uses an innovative approach to writing fiction and realizing full creative potential, all in a safe and structured environment. During the first week, the students build SF or Fantasy worlds in groups, aided by Wofford faculty who provide useful information in areas like government, biology, and cartography. In the second week, the students fine-tune their worlds and write stories set within those worlds, receiving professional feedback from award-winning authors. Participants in this “teen think tank” also learn problem-solving and team-building skills useful for any career.

The Amazon.com grant represents the largest donation of any kind to Shared Worlds in its three-year history. Guest instructors for the grant year of 2011 will include World Fantasy Award winner Jeff VanderMeer, Hugo Award winning editor Ann VanderMeer, Philip K. Dick award finalist Minister Faust, World Fantasy Award winner Ekaterina Sedia, Macmillan Writer’s Prize winner Nnedi Okorafor, and trend-setting game designer Will Hindmarch. Approximately 50 students will attend next year’s camp.

“We’re utterly thrilled and humbled by the grant. Amazon.com’s support is so important for the continued stability and growth of Shared Worlds,” said assistant director Jeff VanderMeer. “I’ve taught writing workshops all over the world for the past twenty years and I can honestly say that Shared Worlds is unique, and a very important space in which teens can develop their creativity and nurture their imaginations while also getting the necessary structure and institutional support.”

Program director Jones agreed: “Amazon.com’s support, along with that of our other important sponsors, represents a commitment to the arts and tomorrow’s writers that can’t be understated.”

Shared Worlds visiting writers have also included NYT bestseller Holly Black, NYT bestseller Tobias Buckell, Nebula Award winner Michael Bishop, and critically acclaimed YA authors Kathe Koja and Marly Youmans. Writers such as Ursula K. Le Guin, China Mieville, and Michael Moorcock have contributed to various subsidiary efforts for the camp. Extensive media coverage for Shared Worlds has appeared in the Guardian, the Washington Post book blog, and many others.

“Shared Worlds takes a truly innovative approach to developing our next generation of great writers,” said Jon Fine, director of Author and Publisher Relations for Amazon.com. “We look forward to the terrific new works the Program’s graduates are bound to create in the future.”

Tim Schmitz, Director of Wofford Summer Programs, noted that “Wofford College is delighted to host Shared Worlds, and I am very pleased that Amazon.com sees promise in what the program is attempting to achieve. As an educator at the college level, it is increasingly clear to me that, in a small way, Shared Worlds provides a valuable supplement to high-school education by creating a great space for teen creativity.”

Shared Worlds is one of a diverse range of not-for-profit author and publisher groups receiving support from Amazon.com for programs dedicated to developing new voices and new books, including the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, Lambda Literary Foundation, Clarion Foundation, Poets & Writers, The Loft, Copper Canyon Press, The Moth, Seattle Arts & Lectures, Richard Hugo House, WriteGirl, Milkweed Editions, ACT Young Playwrights Program, 826 Seattle, Voice of Witness, Open Letter, Archipelago Books, Pen American Center, Words Without Borders, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. Girls Write Now, Asian American Writers Workshop, New York Writers Coalition, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. All of these organizations share Amazon.com’s obsession with fostering the creation, discussion, and publication of new authors and new work.

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