The Leyla Beban Young Authors Foundation was founded to support middle and high school students in pursuit of their passion for creative writing. We were inspired to do this in memory of Leyla Beban, who loved to read and write stories, to get lost in the adventure of imagination, and had hoped to publish at least one’ book in her life. She was fortunate to have mentors in middle school that encouraged her to follow her passion and help her develop, and we wanted to provide support and encouragement in her name to others with similar talents and dreams.
So our mission, simply put, is to provide the encouragement, resources, training, and inspiration to young writers like Leyla.
How do we do that?
We focus on four main activities in support of this mission. The biggest are the ‘$1000 for 1000 Words’ fiction-writing competition and the journal, Bluefire, which publishes the work from the competition. All submissions are eligible and the pieces judged as showing the most promise are awarded scholarships and prizes, and guaranteed a spot in the journal. Other ‘honorable mentions’ are also published in the journal. The scholarships are $1000, one for the best submissions in each of middle school and high school grades, which may be used to pay for school tuition, tuition to writers camps, or other educational expenses. We give $100 cash to the best submission in each grade, and $50 to each honorable mention entry. Our goal is to encourage students and to provide an avenue for them to feel accomplished, to see their name in print, and get a taste of what it feels like to be a published author. We engage school age students in the design, layout, and publishing of the journal, furthering our mission by providing experience in self-publishing and publishing tools.
Another part of our mission is to provide training to students in creative writing, particularly for students from underserved segments of our communities, who might not otherwise have the depth of opportunity of other, more fortunate kids. We provide support for creative writing curricula in summer camp in partnership with other nonprofits.
Lastly, we want to expose the students to writers, publishers, and literary agents through a series of public lectures. Our goal is to further inspire students by introducing them to people who have committed their life and livelihood to writing and publishing.