California Poets in the Schools began in 1964 at San Francisco State University as the Pegasus Project
placing poets in classrooms in the Bay Area to read poetry to children. The poets soon began teaching children
to write poetry, and the program evolved to include the students' active participation in the writing process
California Poets in the Schools became a statewide organization in the mid-1970s and there are now
CPITS programs in 35 counties from Humboldt to San Diego. It is estimated that since 1964 a half million
students have been introduced to creative writing by CPITS poets. Since 1987, CPITS has placed over 150 poets
in more than 300 schools across the state to work with 25,000 students in grades Kindergarten through Twelfth.
Over 100,000 poems are written every year by students in CPITS poetry workshops; some of the best
are collected in local, regional, and statewide anthologies every year.
California Poets in the Schools is a statewide Artists-in-the-Schools program which began with funding from the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. The program's primary focus is to encourage students to write, using their own imagination, life experience, and special perceptions to create poetry. CPITS Poet-Consultants are all committed, professional, published writers who have been thoroughly trained in the art of teaching poetry to children. They are from diverse cultural and ethnic heritages and from all walks of life. An enormously talented group of individuals, they are dedicated to bringing the possibilities of creative expression through poetry into the classroom. CPITS poets serve as living models of commitment to imaginative language and creativity and are uniquely capable of sharing an artist's insights with students.
California Poets in the Schools is the largest writers-in-schools program in the nation. It is also community based local poet Area Coordinators administer the program in their counties, and our policy is to place poets in schools in their own communities, often in their own immediate neighborhoods. Whether the school and community reflect an urban multicultural/bilingual population, a suburban environment, or a rural farming area, CPITS has poets available who are of that community and familiar with its mores and values.
From 1964-1985, California Poets in the Schools was an affiliate of the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University and was legally and fiscally administered by the University's educational foundation. In recent years, CPITS has grown and developed in ways which no longer coincide with the University's interest, scope, or financial management. Following a carefully researched and orchestrated plan, we took up the challenge of independence and, in November, 1985, California Poets in the Schools became an independent, non-profit community literary arts organization administered through its own Board of Directors. Currently, the Board of Directors includes experienced poets from the program, five poet teachers elected to represent the field programs, and dedicated professionals from areas including the law, education, and non-profit management. As part of its current 3-year plan (1991-94), and coincident with a reduction in public arts funding, CPlTS began developing a diversified funding base which includes corporate, community, and private foundations, and a membership and major donor program.
California Poets in the Schools endeavors to:
| © Peter Y. Chou,
Wisdom Portal, P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email address: peter(at)wisdomportal.com (12-12-96, updated 2-22-99)