Katie Eder helps Kids Tales writer's workshop participants craft their own stories.
August 18, 2017
Written by Alice Gilliam, United Way Summer Intern
Katie Eder was one of several nominees for the 2017 United Way Emerging Leaders Philanthropic Youth Award. We will be profiling these incredible local youth throughout the year.
In the fifth grade, Katie Eder broke her arm. While that may have been devastating to her at the time, it was the start of her passion for writing. Unable to play summer sports, Katie reluctantly, attended the summer writing classes that her parents signed her up for. On the first day of class, she fell in love with writing and three years later, in 2014, she started her own nonprofit organization rooted in writing workshops: Kids Tales.
Kids Tales teaches children who don’t have writing opportunities outside of school how to create, compose, and even publish their own short stories. The student-led, week-long workshops empower every child to find their voice and use it to express their thoughts, opinions, and feelings. Kids Tales started in Milwaukee, WI, and has now expanded to 1100 students across 12 U.S. cities and 7 countries! The business has increased using family ties, word of mouth, and teen social power. There are over 200 teachers who lead the workshops and every aspect of the business is managed by teenagers, which is important to Katie.
“To a lot of people, teenagers have a bad reputation, but I believe giving teenagers the tools and responsibility to create their own organization turns them into leaders,” says Katie. “I see my team as an army of teenage leaders.”
This passion and dedication for Kids Tales has garnered recognition from many organizations including the National Writing Project, the International Literacy Association’s Global 30 under 30 list, and Youth Service America, which gave Katie the opportunity to go to Hungary to do workshops to refugees and underprivileged children.
The greatest reward for Katie is the feedback from the students that Kids Tales teach.
“My first workshop, a little girl came up to me and thanked me for allowing her to express herself through writing after experiencing a difficult home life including her parents going through a divorce,” Katie reflects. “That moment is what made me want to continue to do workshops.”
Katie’s dream for Kids Tales is for every child to become a published author. Although she thinks that it is a far-fetched goal, she believes writing, communication, and empathy are qualities that the world lacks and that writing can boost those skills. Her goal for Kids Tales is to continue to expand, perhaps even to college campuses when Katie enters college herself in a few years.
Katie also wants to continue to make children happy and continue to allow her students to use the power of story to change the minds of others.
“I want to challenge people to look beyond the surface and try to understand the person more. I think that’s what writing does,” says Katie. “It allows you to see another side of a person.”
If you would like to support Kids Tales, you can read stories that the workshops have produced, buy books to support the message and purpose of Kids Tales, or refer a teenager to apply to become a teacher and lead a workshop of their own.
Learn more about Kids Tales.
Meet the 2017 Philanthropic 5 and Philanthropic Youth honorees.