Student Spotlight: Molly


Meet Molly, one of our most experienced inkers here at 916 Ink! With her playful and upbeat attitude, she shines in the classroom and helps make our workshops a positive environment for everyone involved. Her writing is always a joy and delight to listen to, and she helpfully models the 916 Ink method without even thinking about it, taking her work and that of others seriously. She helps keep the class moving forward, not only by sharing her work but also carefully listening to the work of her peers and providing them with well thought out positive feedback.


“I really like practicing my writing skills and being able to express myself through my words,” Molly commented when reflecting on her experience, “I think 916 Ink is a good environment to do that. I like writing with my friends. You get to hear a lot of different styles.”

At our Amplify middle school book release party, her mother expressed equal joy in Molly having the opportunity to express herself through writing. “The Imaginarium is a wonderfully creative space, and at this young age Molly has this incredible support system to help her flourish. Learning the power of her voice will serve her well as she grows.”

Her writing has been featured in three of our anthologies so far, and as a current student in our new class, Author’s Lab, she’s well on her way to publishing more amazing pieces for readers to enjoy. It’s been a thrill to watch her develop and grow throughout these workshops, and seeing a student thrive the way she has is the reason we work so hard at 916 Ink.

Amplify! Book Release


It was a warm September evening, with heavy winds being the only sign that summer was coming to a close. As smiling Inkers returned to the Imaginarium with their families, this night felt different than the time they had spent here during summer. Far from the nervous excitement that comes with the first day of camp, the energy in the room was pure celebration. Now, seeing their anthology freshly printed for the first time, every camper radiated the confidence that comes with being a published author. 


Year four of 916 Ink’s “Amplify!” Summer Camps had so many youth authors we needed TWO anthologies to fit them all. At over 300 pages, Book of Legends: The Magic Gherkin and the Blazing Blue Fire features writing from our 3-5 grade students. Our 6-8 graders chose the title Secrets for their book, which was equally impressive 250 pages. This year’s Amplify featured five, week-long sessions held throughout July and August. In 2019 we were able to host a record 150 students – nearly triple the number from the previous year – thanks to continuing support from the California Arts Council’s Youth Arts Action grant and a first time grant from the RCA Community Fund. We were amazed at the demand for this program from the community, and without the support of these organizations would never have been able to expand our programs so extensively.  


While we’ve always invited 3-5 grade students to experience the magic of Amplify, there was another reason this year was special. For two of our week-long sessions, we were able to open up the Imaginarium to 6-8 graders, allowing even more children from the community the opportunity to craft their own stories. Our Wordslingers and dedicated volunteers spent the hot summer weeks with these young authors, helping them build their confidence as writers and perfect the pieces they’ve chosen for their book. Only five short weeks after the last session ended, the publications were back from the printer, and it was time for one of our favorite moments: The book release party.


As the night began, the Imaginarium filled with authors and guests, mingling before the main event. Friends were reuniting, authors were signing copies of their book, and several brave writers were preparing to read a selection for the standing-room-only crowd. When it was time to begin, 916 Ink staff quieted the room, calling up the first young author to read aloud to the audience. When a child steps up to the microphone and begins to speak, the whole room focuses on them. Our paparazzo snaps away as they read, and proud parents film the moment on their phones. The night is all about celebrating these authors, and when they finish their piece the room bursts into applause. You can see the joy in their face as they skip back to their seats, a new self-confidence cemented in their minds with the knowledge that they are writers, published authors, and capable of extraordinary things.

916 Ink Receives Grant to work with Rancho Cordova Youth in Creative Writing Workshops!

Rancho Cordova, Calif. [10-12-2018] – 916 Ink received a boost on in fall 2018 when it received a grant for 6 workshops in five different schools from the City of Rancho Cordova’s Community Enhancement Fund. Our workshops are one set of more than 50 community projects that will receive grant funds during the 2018/2019 fiscal year. 916 Ink will receive $47,795 to put towards its project.

"We are thrilled with the City of Rancho Cordova's investment for this innovative and transformative program benefitting Rancho Cordova youth!" says Ian Hadley, Executive Director of 916 Ink.  "We are teaching youth empathy, empowerment, and a love for the written word!”

With the support of the City of Rancho Cordova’s Community Enhancement Fund, 916 Ink will provide three high school creative writing workshops, one middle school creative writing workshop and two elementary school creative writing workshops in the 2018-19 school year, transforming up to 125 students into published authors and confident communicators.

The writing and sharing of stories builds empathy, increases confidence, and gives youth the agency to understand and harness the power of their personal narratives. At 916 Ink we believe that writing and publishing can be taught with empathy and compassion while providing a high-quality literary arts experience that impacts students' literacy skills, motivation, and engagement.

The City of Rancho Cordova's Community Enhancement Fund is supported by Measure H, a half-cent sales tax approved by Rancho Cordova voters in November 2014. The program generates approximately $8.1 million annually, with roughly $1.8 million going to community projects and the remaining $6.3 million allocated to public safety, public works, economic development, legacy projects and other public programs during the 2018/2019 fiscal year.

The more than 50 approved community projects were submitted by a range of individuals, organizations, businesses and community partners. Each project fulfills a need in key community priorities, including arts, culture, history, entertainment and sports; education; and other community priorities.

“In its fourth year, the Community Enhancement Fund grants have enabled the City of Rancho Cordova to partner with residents to bring new and innovative events, programs and projects from ideas to reality,” said Mayor Linda Budge. “The grant program is a great example of what a city can accomplish when we all work together to focus on community priorities.” The City of Rancho Cordova is located in eastern Sacramento County and home to approximately 74,200 residents and 60,000+ employees. The city prides itself on being a safe, inviting and vibrant community that values diversity, opportunity, partnerships and fun. Rancho Cordova became an officially incorporated city in 2003 and is celebrating its 15th birthday in 2018. The city won the All-America City Award in 2010 and was named both Playful City USA and Tree City USA.

Amplify Summer Camp!

Well, that’s a wrap folks! Amplify Summer Camp’s 3rd year has officially been a resounding success. We couldn’t be more thrilled with both the sheer volume of enthusiastic young authors in attendance, and the fantastic work we’ve had the privilege to witness. This year featured more students than ever before, and thanks to funding from the California Arts Council we were able to provide the camp for free to many deserving Inkers whose families would not have been able to send them to a summer camp otherwise. If you are unfamiliar with this program, Amplify Summer Camp is an exciting opportunity for youth to engage even more closely with our curriculum than would be possible in a typical workshop. This lively curriculum includes five, eight-hour days where incoming 4th-6th graders can let their imaginations (and pens) run wild! The result is astounding.

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As is often the case when writing, the most difficult part for a lot of us is knowing where to begin. Wordslingers Mari, Maria and Nora did a fantastic job of helping students avoid this pitfall. At the start of each morning, Mari and Maria guided the Inkers through a slew of activities designed to spark their creativity. For example, “story races” where groups race against the clock to create the longest story possible, each Inker taking turns writing sentences in different colors. The lengthy, colorful, and extremely silly stories allow students to get acquainted with one another and with the writing process. This element of light-hearted competition helps the kids push past the first sentence and into the exploration of their own unique voice.

In the afternoons, 916 Ink hosted a special guest artist each day to offer the Inkers a look into other avenues in which to use their words. Artist Cory Stillian brought some color and canvas to inspire their narratives through painting. Bigger Than Us Arts brought musical instruments to engage students through song. Rapper and children’s book author Orlando Molina, a.k.a. MC Zepps, introduced them to concepts like rhythm, rhyme, and flow to build confidence in the presentation of their work.

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As each session wound down, it came time for Inkers to select the pieces they wanted to be published in the book. To ensure each student had the opportunity to make it exactly what they wanted to present to the world, qualified Guest Editors worked individually with every Inker. Guest Editors open each students’ eyes to the qualities already present in their work that make it strong, and then ask questions about the piece to help identify places where more could be added and expanded upon. By showing them how the imagery and details in their piece intrigue the reader and add value to their stories, our youth are encouraged to create even more vivid descriptions and continue to build on their ideas.

As you all know, no program can be truly finished without a celebration. On September 12th, 916 Ink will host a book release party where students will not only receive two free copies of their book but will also be able to share their published works with friends and family alike. It has to be one of the best parts of a program, particularly the moment after the crowd erupts in applause and cheers and the once nervous student standing behind the microphone can hardly contain the smile on their face, mirroring those staring back at them.

Umm... | A.M. Winn Elementary School

“Umm…” By the Students of A.M. Winn Elementary School

     April 3rd, 2018 -the day had finally arrived for the students of A.M. Winn Elementary School. It was the day of their book release, and as soon as the doors opened the students came rushing in to see a physical copy of their very own book! Justin Self, Director of Development at 916 Ink was taking pictures of the students with his camera and let the students take pictures of each other. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves. Not a nervous child in sight! The energy in the room was unbelievable, every student was exuding happiness and they were ready to share their stories and poems. Maribella Smith, the program’s Wordslinger, kicked off the evening by announcing the authors as well as the inspirators, Ian Hadley, Executive Director of 916 Ink, and Michelle Brandabur, a local high school student who assisted these students in their writing process.

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  The first brave soul was Devin Jones reading Mega Brain found on page 17. Mega Brain is about a smart child who teaches college courses.Next was Joshua Russell reading, Demon Death the Kid, page 42. Demon Death the Kid is about a monster that has Doritos for hair, drinking sewage water turned him evil and now he’s coming to destroy Earth. Dylan Jones was next on stage, he read his story called, The Werewolf. It is about a crazy cool werewolf who ate a lot, has a big uvula and goes on amazing adventures. Dylan walked off the stage looking proud of himself, suddenly, he did a dab dance move, which caused the audience to erupt into laughter! Maribella stepped in to read Zion Russell’s story titled, The Bummer Summer. The Bummer Summer tells us the story of a blonde, 16-year-old girl who is stalked by a grouchy old man. Zion also walked off the stage dabbing! Victoria Gutierrez read her story, Chapter One: July 3rd, page 64. Victoria’s story is about two bickering sisters who transfer schools and make the school a better and brighter place. Benjamin Rosas Lurz read, Detective Johnathan and the Egg Thief, page 31. As he walked on stage a little girl yelled “That’s my brother!” Detective Johnathan and the Egg Thief is about a dad who gets injured and robbed, so he calls Detective Johnathan to solve the crime. Kaylee "Bella" Crane read her poem called Rains Violet on page 50. Rains Violet is about a girl named Periwinkle, who isolated herself to "play in fields of violets and dance in the rain." Shawn Kraus was up next and read his story titled Hero Family on page 58. Hero Family is the tale of a family of superheroes who fight robots! Jason Gandeza came on to the stage and read his piece called The Magic Joystick, found on page 23. The Magic Joystick takes us on an adventure with two best friends who get stuck in a video game, but each level they get to increases in difficulty. Kailoni Jones St. Hill read The Horrible Evil Red Moon, page 46, which is about a red moon that has demons come out of it. The main character's neighbor gets possessed, and she finds out she's a witch! Maribella read Analiese Dunlap's story called Orange Sherbert, on page 3. It's about her love for the ice cream flavor. Maribella read Johnathan Everett's story called Chapter One, on page 38. It was about a boy named Carter who goes on an insane journey in another dimension where he fights demons with his friends and they have fire and wind powers!

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A duo was next! Johnathan Everett and Jason Gandeza had a story called The Magical Boys, page 27, about kids with powers who save the world. Magil Bowens couldn’t attend but wanted their story read. Maribella read their story called The King, page 55. The King is about a greedy king who gets caught in a war with Vikings. Jaylen Saldivar also couldn’t attend, so Maribella read their story titled The Arrow Eye, page 34. The Arrow Eye takes place in a world that’s immersed in a war called The Cabin War, and the journey of a boy named Daniel who is trying to survive the war. The last story was titled A Pig, written by Cassandra Ramirez, on page 6, and it tells us the story of a lonely pig who finds another pig who become very close. Every single student author had amazing reactions from the audience, bursts of laughter, and roaring applause!


That concluded the stories of the student authors, and Nikki Cordoza, Director of Programming for 916 Ink, closed the night by giving posters signed by the student authors to Maribella and two of A.M. Winn’s staff members, Unique and Nisha. “Umm…” is a book filled with some of the most creative stories. Congratulations A.M. Winn Elementary School and thank you for sharing these stories with us!

A special thank you to our funders, The Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation, The City of Sacramento, The County of Sacramento, Sacramento 365, the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commissions’ Cultural Art Awards Program, and the City of Rancho Cordova Community Enhancement Fund! With your support this night full of creativity was made possible.

Stones in the Road | Luther Burbank High School

Luther Burbank Highschool and 916 Ink presents, Stones in the Road, a poetry anthology written by students of different backgrounds, with different issues and personal thoughts that they want heard. Stones in the Road is composed of 90 pieces, some anonymous, some with author names exposed, and some as class poems. Each student poured their heart and soul into their writing, which was made evident on March 20th when the student authors, their English teacher Tom McElheney, and 916 Ink partnered with CLARA and the Capital Stage Company to bring the students’ poetry to life.  


                These students worked for weeks on end with 916 Ink and CLARA to write their poems and then learn how to make them come alive on stage. After rehearsing their pieces, the day finally came. Students nervously arrived to the Capital Stage Company with their enthusiastic parents. Everyone enjoyed snacks, chatted, and rehearsed before entering the theater. The crowd entered slowly, family and friends buzzing like bees with excitement, small children fussing in their seats, and let’s not forget the proud parents with their phones glued to their hands ready to take the perfect picture of their child. 916 Ink Wordslinger Maria Gavia set the scene by giving recognition to those who participated and made the evening possible, CLARA, Capital Stage Company, Tom McElheney, and last but certainly not least, the student authors themselves. Emili Danz, Education Outreach Director at CLARA, gave insight on how they chose to work with 916 Ink, and how they had the student authors work with an acting teacher to give their poetry an awe-inspiring live element. Gail Dartiz, Teaching Artist at CLARA, worked diligently with these students to have them feel every word they said. All the hard work they put into their performances really did payoff.

                While the announcements went on, the students sank into their seats, cheering with gratitude, but nervous knowing their time was coming. The first group stepped to the stage. “Take a deep breath” yelled Gail, sensing their nerves beginnning to get the best of them. And then they started to speak, delivering a powerful piece with voices in sync, and feet stomping with energy and precision. Their performance ended to thunderous applause, loud enough to be heard outside on the street. A weight lifted noticeably off their shoulders as they walked off the stage. One of the groups burst into laughter during their poem about love and heart break, however they got a second chance at redemption, and when they performed again, the group brought the house down! Group after group, each student gained confidence. Lena Vue, student at Luther Burbank revealed “I felt nervous, I forgot some of my gestures but I was pleased with my overall performance.” Most of the groups read anonymous poems but now it was time for the brave poets who wanted to share their own original work. Although he was unable to attend the event, student Ryder Brown wanted his poetry piece to be read so teacher Tom McElheney heroically jumped on stage to deliver Ryder’s poem titled, Another Side, found on page 86. Another Side is about having an alternate personality online, and that personality making him feel powerful. Mr. McElheney’s interpretation of Ryder’s poem was astounding, we hope it would have made Ryder proud! The next was a poem titled, My Mind found on page 39 by Bluefire3572. My Mind is about the darkness that fills our minds and having an overwhelming feeling of not being enough. Bluefire3572 was bursting with emotion and energy that could be felt throughout the entire theater. The Things You Do, by Kenya Wimberly was the third and final individual poem. The Things You Do deals with young love and feeling like one day it may end. Parents and students alike related to the words being spoken. Kenya Wimberly’s raw emotions made a deep connection with the audience. Complete silence transformed into applause as loud as thunder in a split second for each and every performer.

                Ian Hadley, Executive Director of 916 Ink, closed the event by praising the student authors, “This is the power of confidence, this is the power of collaboration!” And by awarding Emili Danz, Gail Dartiz, and Tom McElheney with posters autographed by the newly published young authors themselves. All students gathered on the stage to take a photo, when one young man shouted, “Where’s our paparazzi?” The book release of Stones in the Road was a truly inspiring and beautiful experience filled with equally beautiful words and self-expression. Congratulations to the newly published authors of Luther Burbank Highschool!


Tremendous Thanks to everyone who made this impact on our young authors possible:

Building Healthy Communities: First and foremost we would like to thank the California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative, who’s funding made the writing workshops possible. Learn more at

CLARA: Opened in April 2016 and colloquially known as CLARA, the E Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts provides studios and performance spaces to professionals and community-based art groups to create, collaborate, develop stability, and grow. Learn more at

Capital Stage Company: Capital Stage presents innovative plays while educating members of the community through classes and workshops called CapStage Academy. CapStage Academy creates the resources needed to present performing arts opportunities to aspiring artists in Sacramento. They do this by giving local and visiting theatre professionals a platform through which to share their skills with the Sacramento community. Learn more at

Please join us in appreciating the wonderful contributions of this diverse group of partners who made the program possible!

916 Ink | Announcing our new Executive Director

Ian brings 13 years of non-profit experience, including exceptional work in program development, impact evaluation, grant writing, and personnel management. “We are ecstatic to have Ian assuming the helm.  His talents are tailor-made for guiding 916 Ink in its next growth phase” said Board President Daniel Kaufman.


Before joining 916 Ink, Hadley served as Senior Program Manager at the Child Abuse Prevention Center. In this position he oversaw five statewide programs, representing millions of dollars in federal grants and staffed by over two hundred Americorps members. Hadley’s peers and external partners have lauded his record of building and maintaining strong relationships as well as consistently delivering results. “Ian has built a reputation for quality work that all of us came to rely on and appreciate” commented Stephanie Biegler, Chief Program Officer at Child Abuse Prevention Center.

“Ian has the right mix of talent and personality to pick up the pen and help 916 Ink write its next chapter; I can’t wait to see the results” said Founding Executive Director, Katie McCleary, who was forced to step down unexpectedly in September due to issues with her health. Our board of directors stepped in rapidly to execute a thorough executive search process using best practices from the business community. In multiple rounds of interviews, Ian’s personal connection to 916 Ink’s mission and his extensive nonprofit skillset made him a clear finalist.

Throughout an exceptionally difficult childhood, Ian turned to writing and literature to help him continue moving forward and to keep him inspired to overcome any adversity he faced. “916 Ink allows children to find the space to express themselves and gives them a connection to the aspiration and hope that comes from the power of great stories. The board and staff of 916 INK are some of the most dedicated and passionate people I have ever met and I am incredibly excited about this opportunity. It is an honor to join the team!” said Hadley, who will begin his duties on January 2nd.

After five years serving some of the most marginalized and at-risk youth in the region, 916 Ink continues to set new records for the number of students we publish and the amount of programs provided each year. With the help of our community and especially the generous individual donors and foundations who have made so much of our work possible, 2018 has the possibility to be our strongest year to date. Without a doubt the loss of Katie McCleary was a powerful blow, but it is a testament to the organization’s strength, and to the hard work of our dedicated staff and board of directors that we are able to bring in such a capable and reputable executive director.

We can not go without mentioning our gratitude to all of our partners and funders for their unwavering support. We owe special thanks to the Albert & Elaine Borchard Foundation, as well as both the Cannady-Ford Family Fund and the Margaret Deterding Fund of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, who have been three of our strongest supporters and without whom we could never have come this far. Our impact is also amplified tremendously by the generosity of Golden 1 Credit Union, whose investment in literacy efforts in the Sacramento region is truly incredible. Lastly, the vast majority of 916 Ink's annual budget is pieced together from a remarkably long list of individuals, groups, community organizations, schools, and districts who combine to make the magic of 916 Ink's method available to so many children. We cannot thank you all enough and we are working tirelessly to create priceless returns on the investment you have made in our organization.