InsideOut Literary Arts Project (iO) places great emphasis on assessment. It’s how we know that our work delivers results for students. iO evaluates each project by monitoring and observing writers, surveying teachers mid-year, collecting teaching journals from writers and assessing the quality of writing in the school’s publication. Since 2005, evaluations have consistently demonstrated the effectiveness of iO’s programs. All data and quotes are from the 2015-2016 school year.


Since its founding in 1995 by former Detroit Public School teacher Dr. Terry Blackhawk, InsideOut Literary Arts Project (iO) has inspired students to think broadly, create bravely, and share their voices with the wider world.  Guided by accomplished writers and spoken word artists who teach from the practitioner’s expert point of view, students learn the craft of writing and experience the satisfaction of becoming published authors through a range of creative writing programming in classrooms, after school and in community settings.

In 2015-2016, the organization served nearly 4,000 K-12 students in 33 schools and community sites and published 26 separate, professionally printed literary journals.  Over the last two decades, the compelling poetry and original performances of iO’s students have garnered national awards and accolades.  


  • “I learned new things and I learned how to speak out. I learned how to put how I feel in a poem.”
  • “The InsideOut writer pushed me to think more critically about perspective and how I view myself.”
  • “I learned that I can be brave and strong about things.”


  • “Students appreciated this writing experience.  It encourages them to become better writers & readers.”
    –Teacher, Munger Elementary
  • “The lessons are appropriate for the age-level but challenging. They required students to read, think, and write critically!”
    –Teacher, Communication and Media Arts High School
  • “It provides a space in which students can express themselves and allow for a release of emotions in a constructive way.  Students who are not engaged in traditional lessons are engaged with the Writer-in-Residence and produce quality work.”
    — Teacher, Western International High School