12-17-10, 10:07 A.M.
CSU System Working To Salvage
CT Young Writers Program.
Vice Chancellor Louise Feroe will brief us WED., 12-22-10 on efforts by the CSU System ...
Miracle -- Though Unlikely -- Is Possible... Announcement To Follow Meeting 12-22-10
Connecticut State University System
kept program alive thru June;
now, on last breath
Stories From Today's
Young writers' contest faces lack of funds, uncertain future
BY JIM MOORE
LITCHFIELD — A statewide contest for young writers founded 13 years ago in Litchfield may have awarded its final prize.
A meeting next week promises to spell either the end of the contest, or a new beginning: volunteer directors of the CT Young Writers Trust, an organization founded as the IMPAC Literary Awards for Young Writers, and state university system officials will discuss whether the state can continue to support the contest.
Andy Thibault, chairman of the nonprofit organization's board of directors, said the outlook is bleak.
"Basically, we have no plan, no money, no infrastructure," said Thibault, who is also a longtime local online journalist. "Other than that, we're doing great."
High school students around the state have collected nearly $200,000 in prizes since the contest was founded in 1998, Thibault said. About 6,000 students have participated. The last set of awards was given in June, and applications for the 2011 contest would normally have been distributed by now. That has not yet happened.
The contest's money trouble began in 2008, when the title sponsor ceased to pay.
Integrated Control Systems, better known as IMPAC, founded and sponsored the contest in 1998.
The company was built by James B. Irwin Sr., a local resident who also owned the Litchfield Inn for many years. Irwin bought IMPAC in 1972, and grew it from a firm of six employees into an international management consulting business with a work force that included 2,000 contract management specialists.
In 2004, IMPAC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and in 2008 the company ceased to sponsor the awards program. The Connecticut State University System continued to give $10,000 a year — the same amount provided in past years by IMPAC — through 2009, but has yet to cut a check this year.
Thibault said various other businesses contributed another $6,000 to $10,000 collectively, but he is not soliciting private funds until learning whether the state funding will survive.
The nonprofit group's 2009 tax return lists total year-end assets of $20,045, including $2,545 in savings, $1,000 in stock and $16,500 in prepaid expenses and deferred charges. Thibault said the group has enough cash left to pay an accountant to close the books, unless the state funding comes through.
"I'd say we've got more than one foot in the grave," Thibault said.
State university spokesman Bernard Kavaler said no decision has been made on funding for 2010, or the future. He declined to comment further for the record.
Young Writers Trust: 'There's no money'
Thursday, December 16, 2010
By RICKY CAMPBELL
LITCHFIELD — For 13 years, the Connecticut Young Writers Trust has held a competition for high school students in both prose and poetry, encouraging literary skills and recognizing the best in the state with outstanding awards and outward appreciation.
Now, existence of that same competition is hanging in the balance, staring at what many believe is its untimely death.
The Connecticut Young Writers Competition, which has seen over 6,000 contestants and has bestowed nearly $200,000 in awards, is finding itself in what could be its last days if something doesn’t change drastically, many sources have said.
“There’s no money,” said trust chairman Andy Thibault. “We don’t know if we still exist.”
From its humble beginnings in Litchfield County in 1998, the competition has relied on funding from generous donors, such as founding father Jim Irwin, during his tenure as chairman of his global productivity firm, IMPAC. After two years of success in the Litchfield area, retired Connecticut State University System (CSUS) Chancellor William Cibes teamed up with Irwin and brought it statewide, with IMPAC and CSUS each contributing $10,000 [annually]. Irwin passed away in 2009, and when he was gone, so was half of the assets, leaving CSUS to carry the once-sharable load.
CSUS did the best it could, cutting the prize money in half from $1,000 to $500 for the champion in each group. With the state and its university system in the financial state it is, the future may look grim for the non-profit organization, yet those in governing positions are trying to stay positive.
“We’re hopeful,” said Assistant Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Bernard Kavaler. “It’s too soon to tell if it’s over. We would like for it not to end.”
Trust board members appear to be much more concerned. “We cannot think of a way to keep this going,” said founding member Franz Douskey. “I’m very sorry to see such a positive thing affecting high school students have to end.”
“There should be a way of intelligent people to come up with a solution,” he added.
“It looks very much like it’s not getting done this year,” said prose judge and board member William Crowe. “We don’t have the funding.”
Vicky Nordlund, a creative writing teacher at Rockville High School, has witnessed 18 of her students become contest semi-finalists and even a prose winner. She believes the contest is not only important to the writers, but to their peers.
“It’s a big part of our school culture,” she said in a recent phone interview. “People really look up to the former champions.”
For one of those champions, the end of the competition would conclude something great for so many teenagers.
“This competition is huge,” said former Nordlund student and 2007 state prose champion Melanie Lieberman. “It’s amazing. It’s really a way for students to get some recognition. It would be a shame for it to end.”
Another former competitor had no idea the fund was facing problems. When told about it, now-St. John freshman Carter Brown said “That’s awful.”
“It’s a great overall experience,” he said. “To hear that it might end, it’s discomforting.”
Cost estimates needed for the competition to continue range anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 and Thibault says the future of the event is completely up to CSUS. “The university has a proposal it hasn’t responded to, in which a professor has offered taking on the task in exchange for course relief,” he said. “The ball is in the university’s court.”
Douskey suggested that instead of a financial reward, the system could offer scholarships to any one of its universities.
For the years of hard work Thibault has poured into the Young Writers Competition, he hates to see it end this way.
“I’ve gotten to know a lot of young writers and seen them flourish. It’s been phenomenal,” he said.
Ricky Campbell can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and followed on Twitter at Twitter.com/rickycampbellRC. Follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/registercitizen
Memos to board members,
CT Young Writers Trust
CT Young Writers Trust
Meeting Scheduled Wed., Dec. 22, 2010, 1 p.m.
Re-constitute, dissolve or take other related action.
Meet at offices of our legal counsel,
William R. Crowe
Mayo Crowe LLC
185 Asylum Street, Hartford
thanks much, Andy
231 Beach St.
Litchfield, CT 06759
* 860-567-8865 * Fax- 860-567-9119
Sent: Mon, Dec 13, 2010 12:03 pm
Subject: * MEETING: Young Writers Trust Is Dead Long Live Young Writers Trust
Monday, Dec., 13, 2010, High Noon
I will be calling a meeting soon at the conference room of our legal counsel, Bill Crowe:
William R. Crowe
Mayo Crowe LLC
185 Asylum Street, Hartford
This is to press the issue of whether we are alive or dead.
You will recall from prior memos since our 13th annual event on June 3, 2010 that other than having no money, infrastructure or plan, we are doing great.
Recently I have received a steady stream of inquiries from young writers, parents and teachers regarding the competition. I have forwarded many of these to Bernard Kavaler @ the CSU System.
Below please see:
Letter from Danbury teacher received today.
My Nov. 13, 2010 memo to the board.
As a writer, educator, and advocate for at-risk teenagers, I am so saddened to hear that there will not be a Young Writers Contest for 2011. I have been a high school English teacher for the past 10 years and have seen this contest bring out the best in my young writers. Since 2002 I have been teaching at Danbury’s Alternative Center for Excellence – an academic program for at-risk teenagers. I use writing as a tool for self-awareness as well as an academic accomplishment. Every year, I had my writing students submit an entry to the contest as a Fall semester final product. The CT Young Writers Competition gave my students motivation to write the best piece of fiction or poetry that they could. They knew that the contest was authentic and fair since the classes before them participated in the event. The Young Writers Contest has become part of the culture of writing here at the Center.
In my 10 years of high school teaching (there’s one year at Rogers Park Middle School in there), I had finalists nine of those 10 years. I cannot tell you the impact that being a finalist had on each of these students. It was an accomplishment far above anything they could dream of. To sit in an awards ceremony, with high school student from all the “better” districts in the state, and to be praised by noted writers and officials of the State University system, was a moment in each young person’s life that was truly priceless. Of these finalists, I know of three young people who are pursuing a career in writing after college.
The Young Writers Competition leveled the playing field for my at-risk students. It took away the label of “bad kid” or “lost cause” and it gave them a fair and unbiased platform from which to excel. The contest was a dream builder. It made dreams possible. It was a magical event and I truly hope the contest can find a way to survive.
I thank you Andy for your passion for this event and for all your years of hard work. If there is anything I can do to help the cause of young writers here in CT, please let me know. As I said in my earlier e-mail, I do believe in miracles and I am believing that there must be a way to keep this contest alive.
Alternative Center for Excellence
IS IT TIME TO SHOVEL DIRT
ON THE COFFIN
OF CT YOUNG WRITERS TRUST?
I asserted – in the latest of a series of conversations with Bernard Kavaler of the CSU System this week – that it is indeed time to shovel dirt on the coffin of the CT Young Writers Trust.
Bernard responded No. however, he could not say why we would have any reason to think otherwise at this time.
* IMPAC has been unable to pay its $10,000 annual contribution since 2008. CSUS – for the first time since 2000 – was unable to pay its $10,000 contribution for the fiscal year ending in June.
* CSUS has not responded to a professor’s offer to run the program in exchange for normal and customary course relief as given to Connecticut Review editors. The 2011 entry forms have not been mailed to schools. Normally, they are mailed any time from August – October.
* We have no money, no infrastructure and no plan.
As you know, The Trust has given nearly $200,000 to teen-age poets and writers since 1998.
We ran the last two years on fumes, but were able to host annual events at Twain House and The Hartford Club following regional ceremonies @ CSUS campuses with reduced prizes [$500 rather than $1,000 for county champions.]
Elaine Clarke of IMPAC is unable to continue her pro bono work as administrator of the program. If we were to pay someone to do her job, it would cost at least $20,000 per year.
We are out $20,000 in prize money / expenses. Traditionally, I have raised $6,000 - $10,000 per year for expenses.
In my estimation we would need at least $50,000 per year to keep the program going. That would be contingent on continued pro bono work by dedicated CSUS staff @ the four campuses and the central office.
We have enough money in the checking account to have our accountant file a tax return before April. By that time, the program must shut down or be revived as additional costs will be incurred [another tax return cycle].
That is all.