Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA)

Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA)
Founded: 1999

Mission: To center and honor the traditions and aesthetics of writers of color and provide a platform for their growth and work.

About the organization: Founded in 1999 by authors Elmaz Abinader, Junot Díaz, Víctor Díaz, and Diem Jones, Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA) is a multi-genre workshop that provides writers of color with an environment where their narratives, voices, and experiences are centered and honored. Since 1999, when less than 0.2 percent of the participants in writing workshops were writers of color, VONA has provided a forum for the serious study of work by writers of color, creating a platform for conversations and support that had not previously existed and facilitating increased access to writing programs. 

Current programs: VONA offers one-week summer workshops at the University of Miami that enable writers of color to explore their craft in an atmosphere of support and understanding, exchange ideas and inspirations with established writers, and gain the confidence needed to become a full-time writer. VONA faculty have included Chris Abani, Faith Adiele, Samiya Bashir, Staceyann Chin, Tananarive Due, M. Evelina Galang, Reyna Grande, Jessica Hagedorn, Suheir Hammad, Mat Johnson, Tayari Jones, David Mura, John Murillo, Cherrie Moraga, Victor LaValle, Shay Youngblood, W Danzy Senna, and Patricia Smith. Any writer of color is eligible to apply for a VONA workshop, and the organization provides a limited number of partial need-based scholarships. 

In 2019, the organization introduced VONA Across the Country, a series of one- and two-day workshops presented across the United States as a way to provide writers of color with intensive workshops where they live.

Website: Visitors to the VONA site can learn more about its workshops (which were conducted online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic); check out FAQs for information about summer workshops and VONA Across the Country workshops; and/or find out how to apply for future summer workshops. They can also keep up with the latest news and events, including online faculty readings, or find out how to support the organization by volunteering or making a donation.

Funding: VONA is supported by individuals, foundations, nonprofits, and program fees.

Address:
2820 SW 20th Street
Miami, FL 33145

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