Writing to create change

Estée Lauder Companies has announced its first-year grant recipients for Writing Change, a global three-year, US$3 million literacy impact initiative.

The initiative is said to have been inspired by Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, award-winning writer and Estée Lauder Global Changemaker and Brand Ambassador.

Over three years, Writing Change will reportedly invest in organisations working to close the literacy gap and support efforts that work to advance systemic changes across three focus pillars:

  • Access: Equitable access to literacy programs to ensure education is a fundamental right, especially for the communities in need.
  • Advocacy: The publication and advocacy of diverse writers and young leaders to advance representation in literature at all levels.
  • Artistic Expression in Youth: Community programming that advances creativity and cultivates a passion for artistic and social expression in youth through writing, particularly for girls of colour.

It’s said that the Writing Change initiative will track and evaluate grantee impact on an annual basis in close coordination with the non-profit partners, including robust reporting on programmatic progress across each pillar.

In its first year, Writing Change will reportedly focus on U.S. organisations with the potential to expand globally in years two and three.

“We are so proud to launch Writing Change. This program is deeply tied to our company’s long-standing commitment to the advancement of education, particularly for women and girls – and was deeply inspired by Amanda’s belief in literacy as a pathway to change and its mission,” says Fabrizio Freda, President and CEO, The Estée Lauder Companies.

“Amanda herself demonstrates the power of storytelling and the impact of words on the lives of young people and how words can be a catalyst to effect change.”

With literacy being ley to building self-efficacy, esteem and unlocking opportunities, Executive Chairman of The Estée Lauder Companies, William P. Lauder says that the company is “honoured and excited” to get behind organisations “making amazing crossroads in literacy”.

Speaking of Ms Gorman, Mr Lauder adds the company is “deeply inspired but the role model’s energy, passion, and thought-leadership”.

“Amanda [Gorman] is a role model for an entire generation of new leaders,” he says.

Speaking about the initiative – Writing Change – Ms Gorman says she is “thrilled that the work of these worthy organisations can continue to reach more communities through Writing Change”.

“Representation in literacy matters,” she says.

“For youth, literacy is a pathway to social expression that leads to progress.

“I truly believe that words lead to actions that can change the world.

“I am so proud of the work that I know is to come, and I look forward to this first year of impact through Writing Change.”

Literacy builds self-efficacy and esteem, unlocks opportunity, and empowers people to participate fully in their community and in society.

Yet, despite the steady rise in literacy rates over the years, more than 773 million children and adults around the world are illiterate, most of whom are girls and women.

In the United States, over 43 million adults lack functional literacy skills and nearly two-thirds of high-school graduates are still reading below grade level.

The Covid-19 pandemic has further disrupted education and magnified the pre-existing inequalities in the access to tools, resources, and programming that are essential to sustained progress in literacy and learning, particularly in low-income or rural communities and in communities of colour.

For more on Writing Change and the inaugural grantees, visit The Estée Lauder Companies’ corporate site: elcompanies.com/en/our-commitments/social-impact/writing-change-amanda-gorman.