Deep Center’s mission is to empower Savannah’s young people to thrive as learners, community leaders, and agents of change. Through creative writing, cultural production, and art, Deep creates platforms for the city’s youth and the village of support around them, including their families and adult allies, to share stories, engage in debates, and make Savannah a more just and equitable place.
Deep Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was founded in 2008 to address the detrimental effects of poverty on literacy in Savannah, Georgia. During our first year, we hosted free creative-writing workshops for 24 young people from two local public schools and published one book of writing.
We’ve grown a lot since 2008. We currently work with 350 youth and dozens of adult artists, writers, and community stakeholders every year. All told, we have supported more than 3,250 young people with our free writing, arts, and leadership programs, and we’ve published more than 89 anthologies of youth and adult work, trained more than 200 local writing mentors, hosted live readings reaching diverse audiences of 8,000, and shared Savannah’s stories around the nation.
In November 2015, Deep traveled to the White House, where First Lady Michelle Obama personally awarded Deep Center a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award—the nation’s highest honor for organizations like ours.
While our fundamental aim remains building literacy and learning through the art of creative storytelling, we are continually deepening our practices, expanding our reach, and honing our strategies to best work with our communities and to make Savannah a more just and equitable place.
Why We Write: Statement of Need
In Savannah, 28% of residents and 42% of children live in poverty, and 67% of public-school students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Research shows strong links between poverty and trauma and the capacity to learn and thrive. Savannah’s public schools alone cannot meet the manifold needs of children growing up with limited resources. Furthermore, many of our young people struggle to express themselves, hear directly or indirectly that their stories don’t matter, and are bombarded with negative messages about themselves and their communities, with few opportunities to respond with truth and their own perspectives.
Vision: The Change We See
We envision a Savannah where our young people and their families thrive as learners, community leaders, and artists; and we envision a community that hears, values, and responds to their voices.
Core Values: What Drives Us
Depth: We believe that a deep exploration of our community’s shared and diverse narratives is the surest way to open minds, encourage hearts, and inspire change.
Community: We believe that solutions are found both locally and nationally. We leverage the talent, creativity, and care that exists in our city while sharing ideas with experts and practitioners nationwide.
Equity: We believe in doing the right thing for Savannah’s most vulnerable populations.
Co-learning: We believe that we build true knowledge and understanding by valuing every person in the room for the unique fund of knowledge they bring.
Truth: We believe that when we value the honest voices of young people, they gain confidence in themselves and the power to take charge of their stories and to transform their communities.
Courage: We believe that honesty—both in writing and in life—requires bravery and conviction. We strive to inspire intellectual and emotional courage in our young people.
Joy: We believe that true creativity springs from a motivated and joyful approach to complex problem-solving. We delight in our work and deliberately incorporate fun into everything we do.