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Research Impact Story: ‘Measuring Magic: How Writers Collective of Canada went beyond statistics to quantify its program’s life-changing impact’

Author: Shelly Lepp, Chief Executive Officer of the Writers Collective of Canada, shares insights gained through the organization’s journey with evaluation.

In 2013, a group of unhoused men and women gathered in Writers Collective of Canada’s (WCC) first writing workshop at Toronto’s toughest drop-in shelter. 

“I bet you have stories to tell,” WCC founder, Susan Turk Mozer prompted. 

“Nobody has stories like we do!” they replied. 

The group wrote together—first tentatively then more assuredly. Many of the participants shared what they had just written and were stunned by the power of their voice. Stories were told for the first time and were affirmed by supportive feedback. The impact on each writer, within and outside of the workshops, was—and still is—profound. 

Rather than focusing on craft or final product, WCC workshops emphasize the many benefits associated with the process of writing in community, sharing that writing, and feeling deeply heard—all while finding connection with self and others. The word most commonly used to describe the transformation we witness in our writers is, “magic”. 

But there is no funding available for magic. So, from its early years, WCC has learned how to measure the impact of the magic our program creates.

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