NEW YORK CITY – The Writers Guild of America, East Foundation has changed its name — it is now called the Writers Guild Initiative (WGI). The name change is part of a rebranding that recognizes the organization’s long time proactive and focused mission: “to perpetuate the art and craft of storytelling, either by professionals or amateurs, through education and practical experience, on local, national, and global levels.” The Initiative’s programs are designed to reach various populations and help them to find their unique voice as writers.

“To grade schoolers, high school and college students, to the military, caregivers of the wounded, and even to medical personnel who treat them, we have volunteered our skills. We share our enthusiasm and knowledge. We encourage. We support. As our new name proudly acknowledges, we take the initiative,” explains Michael Weller, president of the Writers Guild Initiative.

In addition to its rebranding, the Writers Guild Initiative also named Jenna Jackson as Director of Operations and Communications. Jenna will co-ordinate development, marketing, and oversight of the Initiative’s programs, and manage day-to-day operations of the Initiative.

The Initiative’s efforts currently center around five core programs:

§ Helen Deutsch Writing Workshops – workshop programs where writers from all genres work in teams mentoring veterans, wounded veterans, their caregivers, and the medical personnel, helping them give voice to their personal stories and make their writing aspirations a reality. Currently, the workshops are held in partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project. The program is named after the late librettist/screenwriter Helen Deutsch, who is also a primary benefactor of the Initiative.

§ Actors and Writers Book Club – a program that brings a high-profile actor and writer into high schools to read and discuss works of literature, to get students excited about reading and writing to see the value and importance of reading, storytelling and language skills in their personal and professional lives.

§ Michael Collyer Memorial Fellowship in Screenwriting – annually awards a college senior with a fellowship to write an original screenplay under the mentorship of a prominent screenwriter. The Collyer Fellowship honors Michael Collyer, a distinguished entertainment attorney, and is funded by a grant from the Charles and Lucille King Family Foundation.

§ PencilPALS – a letter exchange program between creative people and elementary school students geared towards inspiring a love of reading and writing and making it a first person experience for students. The program is held in conjunction with the SAG Foundation’s BookPals program.

§ Coleman Jacoby Young Comedy Writer Award – a newly created program underwritten by a bequest in tribute to veteran comedy writer Coleman Jacoby. Open to high school students, the program seeks to find new comedic voices with personality, perspective, and unique storytelling.

The Writers Guild Initiative is also exploring new partnerships and programs to discover and encourage voices that need to be heard and stories that need to be told.