iO is a nationally recognized hub of creativity for K-12 students in Detroit who are curious about exploring their worlds through the power of poetry. Since 1995, iO has helped to amplify the voices of thousands of students by dispatching established and emerging poets and writers into classrooms. The writers conduct creative workshops and work side-by-side with students over the course of the year, helping them to create poems, stories, artwork and stage-ready performance pieces. Students contribute to their school’s literary journal, which is published and presented by iO at the end of each year during in-school galas.

In 2009, the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities tapped iO as one of the country’s top youth arts programs with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. What began as a tiny idea in the heart of one teacher, founder Dr. Terry Blackhawk, continues to blossom into a grand example of the literary arts helping students leap over academic obstacles to express themselves as leaders now.

iO Writers-in-Residence Marcus Wicker and Chace Morris work with students at Cody High School. Photo Elayne Gross

iO Writers-in-Residence Marcus Wicker and Chace Morris work with students at Cody High School. Photo E. Gross


By immersing students in the joy and power of poetry and literary self-expression, InsideOut inspires them to think broadly, create bravely and share their voices with the wider world. Guided by professional writers and celebrated by publications and performances, youth learn that their stories and ideas matter and that their pens can launch them off the page into extraordinary lives.

Experiencing the passion and transforming power of the written word will become an essential part of every child’s education.


InsideOut 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.

View our Annual Report and recent 990.
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