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Rowana Miller: Introducing K-12 Kids to the Power of Written Expression

Rowana Miller: Introducing K-12 Kids to the Power of Written Expression

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Rowana Miller, the founder and executive director of Cosmic Writers. Let’s learn what’s happening at Cosmic Writers and how Rowana is making a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Hi Rowana, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Cosmic Writers?

Rowana: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! I'm the founder and executive director of Cosmic Writers, a nonprofit that provides creative writing education to K–12 students around the United States and beyond. There are so many kids who see writing as a chore, and who never feel self-motivated to learn how to express themselves. We aim to show our participants that writing has extraordinary power. If you can write clearly and confidently, you can make your ideas into reality.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Rowana: In the summer of 2020, I launched our first season of Word Camp: a virtual creative writing camp for kids. I expected the camp to fill the specific need created by the pandemic—namely, engagement for kids stuck at home. But families told me that they had been long seeking something like the camp. There was an enormous need for creative writing education, families said, and existing services were either high-cost or limited by geography. That's why Cosmic Writers is here: to fulfill that need.

Spiffy: I love the name, too! Can you elaborate on the impact of your work?

Rowana: Creative writing isn't just for kids who already consider themselves writers—it's for kids who love to design video games, or for kids who are excited by sharing scientific discoveries. And when those types of kids participate in our programs, it's often the first time that they see how writing can empower them. That realization is crucial. When you learn to love writing, you're driven to become a stronger writer. And stronger writers are more likely to succeed in almost any life path.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your intended audience?

Rowana: Cosmic Writers has recently reached our thousandth child through our programming! Especially as an organization so young—we've been operating independently for about 16 months now—this is huge. We're truly reaching our audience.

Spiffy: Wow, congratulations! Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Rowana: I'd like to go into some more detail about the universal value of writing. No matter what you do for your career and in your life, you need to be able to communicate your ideas effectively: in cover letters to future employers, in memos to colleagues, in messages of love to significant others. (Yes, AI can help you put words on the page, but it can't read your mind and convey your specific ideas.) That's at the core of why I do this work: I believe that writing is central to being a person.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Rowana—it’s been an honor!

Rowana Miller is the founder and executive director of Cosmic Writers. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and has been awarded the 2023 Greater Philadelphia Social Innovation Award for Educational Entrepreneurship and the 2022 University of Pennsylvania President’s Engagement Prize. (Nominated by Josef Scarantino at Hubspot Ventures. First published on the Ladderworks website on June 20, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.