May 19, 2011—New York, NY—Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, today announced that the Writers Guild of America, East Foundation has been recommended for a grant of $10,000 to support the Actors and Writers Book Club, which will bring established actors and writers to high schools to read and discuss classic works of literature. The NEA grant will be matched by $10,000 pledged to the WGAE Foundation by an anonymous donor.

The Writers Guild of America, East Foundation is one of 1,145 not-for-profit national, regional, state, and local organizations recommended for a grant as part of the federal agency’s second round of fiscal year 2011 grants. In total, the Arts Endowment will distribute more than $88 million to support projects nationwide.

An independent agency of the federal government, the National Endowment for the Arts advances artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman said, “NEA research shows that three out of four Americans participate in the arts. The diverse, innovative, and exceptional projects funded in this round will ensure that Americans around the country continue to have the opportunity to experience and participate in the arts.”

“We are extremely grateful for the $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts which, along with the matching grant from an anonymous donor, will allow us to expand the work of the Actors and Writers Book Club,” said Book Club Chair Thomas Kelly, a novelist, and writer/producer of CBS Bluebloods. “Studies show that students engaged with literature are more likely to graduate from high school and go on to achieve academic success in college. Consistent readers learn critical analytical skills which bring understanding and confidence that will serve them the rest of their lives.”

The Actors and Writers Book Club plans to travel to several US cities, including Philadelphia, St. Louis, Tucson, and Chicago during 2011-12. In conjunction with the high school’s curriculum, an established actor and writer read from such classics as Their Eyes Were Watching God by Nora Zeale Hurston, A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin, or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, allowing assembled students to connect with literature through the shared experience of actors and writers they know and admire. The program’s goal is to provide the deepest possible experience of the books selected—one that encourages the high school reader to explore other books, to enjoy the pleasures that reading brings, and to think about the positive effects that literature can have on both their professional and personal lives.

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