2019 Grants Challenge

Get Lit with Red Hen Press: Support LA Publishing

Red Hen Press will provide opportunities for minority populations to establish their place in the American literary canon by publishing works of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. The press will also organize several free or low-cost literary events, award prizes to excellent emerging authors, and provide free creative writing workshops and books to low-income youth in Los Angeles.


Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

Twenty-four years ago, Dr. Kate Gale and Mark E. Cull founded Red Hen Press because they wanted to create a place for literature that could not find a home in New York publishing houses. They believed that Los Angeles could be a literary city, “Paris by the Pacific,” a home for literature, diversity, and creation in an ecosystem of artistic intellectual activity. Today, Los Angeles is home to many writing programs, presses, bookstores, and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, with Red Hen at the forefront of this thriving literary community. To date, Red Hen Press has published 438 books from 294 authors of many genders, ethnicities, sexualities, religions, and abilities. 132 of these authors have been women or nonbinary individuals.

Our WITS program directly supports our mission by promoting literacy in our local schools and increasing the diversity of the Los Angeles literary community. Since 2003, WITS has provided free creative writing workshops and books to over 4,000 low-income students in the third through twelfth grades. The program currently supports approximately 250 students at five Los Angeles area schools each year. During the 2017-2018 school year, participating students exhibited a 95% increase in interest in writing poetry and an increased knowledge of literary terms.

One fourth grade boy was very disruptive and distracted when his first WITS workshop started, and his teacher told us that he usually didn’t like school and was very vocal about it. But once the WITS lesson got started, he told us that the example poem our instructor chose was the best poem he’d ever heard, and he was so excited about it that he eagerly wrote his own poetry and even volunteered to share it with the class when he was done. His teacher was amazed by his excitement, since she had been struggling for months to find something that would hold his interest and get him to feel positively about school.

Which of the CREATE metrics will your submission impact?​​

Employment in the creative industries

Arts establishments per capita

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?​

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA


South Bay

Antelope Valley

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles


How will your project make LA the best place to CREATE?

Red Hen Press will follow its existing protocol for publishing new books, organizing literary events, awarding manuscript prizes, and running its Writing in the Schools youth outreach program. The press estimates that it serves about 20,000 people per year. Our authors vary widely in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, and socioeconomic status, and we believe our readership mirrors this diversity. Roughly half of the press's annual output of books will be published in the spring, and half in the fall. This includes editorial and design work done to polish and lay out the manuscript and marketing work done to promote the title both before and after publication. Likewise, Red Hen's events will primarily take place over the course of two seasons, with exact dates to be determined. All together, this work will help make LA the best place to CREATE by doing significant work to promote literary arts in Los Angeles; as Southern California's largest nonprofit publisher, we are in a unique position to offer aspiring authors a platform and to strengthen our literary community overall.

In what stage of innovation is this project?​

Expand existing program (expanding and continuing ongoing successful projects)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

Red Hen Press will measure performance by tracking sales figures through both the online interface of our distributor and internal recordkeeping. All titles have sales goals and promotional efforts will be viewed in light of these goals. Results will be gathered quarterly for internal reviews and disseminated annually through royalty reports to authors. Red Hen will also measure success through the amount of media coverage achieved, and will track its results through Google Alerts and social media macros. Finally, Red Hen would measure its book publication success by measuring the attendance at its related literary events. We define success as meeting our sales goals and increasing engagement with potential readers and contributors across all platforms.

For its Writing in the Schools program, Red Hen would measure its success by measuring the number of students reached and by evaluating their progress over the course of the program. Red Hen provides students with evaluations both before and after their participation in the program to measure the amount of literary vocabulary they have learned along with changes in their writing self-confidence, confidence in sharing aloud, and interest in creative self-expression.