Back to School Kurt Vonnegut and Education

100 17%

Goal: $20,000.00

…People on this earth could be joyous, if only they would live rationally, and if they would contribute mutually to each other’s lives.
- Kurt Vonnegut


The KVML Youth Writing program seeks to empower and amplify the student voices by connecting them with mentors across the country. Our programming seeks to honor Kurt Vonnegut’s legacy by promoting his love of the written word, breaking down the barriers of space and time to create physical and virtual spaces that are inspiring and inclusive, and emphasizing an empathetic approach to tutoring and student engagement. Above, all we aspire to be champions for all the young writers we serve and the communities that we support.

Students Served
Volunteer Mentors
Cat Poems
The Vonnegut Youth Writing Centers mirror the college writing center model—promoting responsibility, self-discovery, relationship-building, and holistic writing growth. Students receive one-on-one assistance from writing tutors with a diverse range of writing tasks, whether related to academic writing, college applications, job placement, civic advocacy, or creative fulfillment.
Young poets and storytellers have the opportunity to participate in after-school writing clubs, with a focus on social justice and empowerment. Creative work from our students at Shortridge High School, Kurt Vonnegut’s alma mater, is published in Reverberations, which exists as both an online zine and an annual print journal.
KVML host specialized writing workshops for young writers of different age groups throughout the year—at KVML, virtual, and on-site with our community partners. These Vonnegut-centered sessions—led by authors, teachers, and community partners—serve to demonstrate the relevance and vitality of the literary legend’s work today.


Shortridge High school

The Vonnegut Youth Writing Center at SHS runs out of the Media Center inside the author’s alma mater and is open during each and every school day.

Vonnegut Museum & Library

The second floor of KVML houses our second Writing Center space, open for field trips, writing clubs, and other workshops.

Program History

Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library establishes 1922 Society to raise funds for Youth Writing Programs; Butler Writers Studio at Shortridge becomes Vonnegut Youth Writing Center.


KVML launches Youth Writing Program with support from Dave Eggers and 826 Valencia and dedicates space on-site for youth writing workshops and tutoring.


Butler Writers Studio opens at Shortridge High School with the support of a grant for IPS Future Centers, awarded by the Lilly Endowment.


The Lilly Foundation endows the Butler Writers program with funding to supports annual publication of student lit journals, staff scholarships, and sustenance for our writers.


Butler Writers program expands programming to Broad Ripple Magnet School.


Butler Writers program recognized with Jefferson Award for Public Service.


Butler Writers program is established at Shortridge High School; Writing in the Schools course offered for the first time at Butler University, providing service opportunities for college students and community volunteers. 


Chris Speckman

Program Director

Chris Speckman is a teacher, poet, and father. He has been involved with youth writing programs since 2011, when he helped develop the award-winning Butler Writers partnership with Indianapolis Public Schools. Since 2013, when he earned his MFA in Creative Writing, he has taught EN 455-S, a service learning course that affirms how relationship building, positive reinforcement, and interconnectivity through language can be vital strategies for helping to serve the diverse needs of urban school districts. He also been an instructor for a first-year writing course called The Poetic History of Hip Hop.

He was hired as a full-time writing specialist at Shortridge High School in 2018, where he also teaches Composition and Creative Writing. His poetry has appeared in Scoundrel Time, Cimarron Review, Passages North, PANK, and the anthologies It Was Written: Poetry Inspired by Hip-Hop and The Indianapolis Anthology. He is inspired by his family, including his wife and two sons.

1922 Society

Our 1922 Society honors Vonnegut’s legacy and KVML’s effort to endow our Youth Writing Programs for the future. Be a part of what we’re building by making a donation to the cause.

How to Volunteer

Our current team of Vonnegut volunteers includes kind folks from all of the country. We connect virtual mentors from places as far ranging as Sacramento and Knoxville by utilizing Microsoft Teams technology. We also welcome volunteers from the Indianapolis area to join us in our writing center spaces at KVML and Shortridge High School. Our crew includes lawyers and artists, former teachers and college students, representing IUPUI and Butler University, which boasts a service-learning course related to this opportunity to teach writing in the schools.
If you are interested in volunteering with KVML, fill out the following form or reach out to Youth Writing Program Coordinator Chris Speckman.

2021-2022 volunteers


Student Submissions

When They See Me

When they see me, Will it be my intelligence Or the color of my skin? The sheer thought that My life could end before It …


Butterflies in the Hood

Momma told me I was a flower child, But I had trouble believing it Because our garden bed felt like it was embedded with concrete …


If We Had a Kid

If I had a kid, I would be there Like my father was. If I had a kid, I would run. If I found a …


Those October Saturdays

Fourth grade was an important year.  No settling into a new school for the first year or two.  My whole family was now a part …



I grow ice on my back, No choice in the matter. In the summer, When it’s warm And the sunlight covers my skin Like a …


Kathi Badertscher, PhD

Director of Graduate Programs at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
Kathi Badertscher, PhD, is Director of Graduate Programs at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Dr. Badertscher teaches a variety of BA, MA, and doctoral courses, including Applying Ethics in Philanthropy and History of Philanthropy. She has participated in several Teaching Vonnegut workshops and is a member of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library. Dr. Badertscher has been a guest speaker on ethics in philanthropy, including at the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners – Indianapolis Council; Association of Fundraising Professionals – Indiana Chapter; and Zhou Enlai School of Government, Nankai University, Tianjin, China. In 2019 she received IUPUI Office for Women, Women’s Leadership Award for Newcomer Faculty. In 2019 and 2020 she received the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Graduate Teaching Award.
Dr. Badertscher’s publications include “Fundraising for Advocacy and Social Change,” co-authored with Shariq Siddiqui in Achieving Excellence in Fundraising, 5th ed., 2022; “Insulin at 100: Indianapolis, Toronto, Woods Hole, and the ‘Insulin Road,’ co-authored with Christopher Rutty, Pharmacy in History (2020); and three articles in the Indiana Magazine of History: “A New Wishard Is on the Way,” “Evaline Holliday and the Work of Community Service,” and “Social Networks in Indianapolis during the Progressive Era.” Her chapters on social welfare history will appear in three upcoming edited volumes on the history of philanthropy, including “The Legacy of Edna Henry and Her Contributions to the IU School of Social Work,” Women at Indiana University: Views of the Past and the Future, edited by Andrea Walton, Indiana University Press, 2022 (forthcoming). Dr. Badertscher is also the Philanthropy and Nonprofits Consulting Editor for the forthcoming Digital Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, edited by David J. Bodenhamer and Elizabeth Van Allen, Indiana University Press, 2021. Dr. Badertscher is an active volunteer in the Indianapolis community. At present, she is a Coburn Place Safe Haven Board Member and a Children’s Bureau/Families First Brand and Marketing Advisor. Dr. Badertscher holds the MA in History from Indiana University and the MA and PhD in philanthropic studies from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Volunteer With KVML

Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library Volunteer Application

Please contact [email protected] if you have any questions about this application’s content.