Close this search box.
…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 student voices by connecting them with mentors. 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 we support.

Students Served
Volunteer Mentors
Writing Centers

The Vonnegut Youth Writing Centers mirror the college writing center model—promoting responsibility, self-discovery, relationship-building, and holistic writing growth. High school students receive one-on-one assistance, and writing tutors  support a diverse range of writing tasks, including academic writing, college applications, job placement, civic advocacy, and creative self-expression.

Each center is run by a Writing Specialist who is supported by a team of Vonnegut Youth Writing Interns and volunteer tutors from the community (both in-person and virtual). The paid internships are available to any college student or community professional in the Indianapolis area. Anyone can apply to be a volunteer.

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.

As part of our partnership with IPS, we have also established a new creative writing club at Crispus Attucks during the school day and are looking to develop programming at Arsenal Tech and George Washington.

KVML hosts specialized writing workshops for young writers of different age groups throughout the year—at KVML, virtual, and on-site with our community partners.  In these workshops, authors, teachers and community partners encourage young people to engage in community and free expression, reflecting values that Kurt Vonnegut championed and that are an important part of his legacy.


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.

Meet our coordinators

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.

Erin Brock

George washington High School

Erin Brock is a dedicated educator and learner who is passionate about encouraging students to push their limits and become their best selves. She is an avid supporter of linguistic justice and diverse practices that encourage students of all backgrounds to grow and learn.

Carrie Gaffney

Arsenal Tech High School

Carrie Gaffney is an Indianapolis-based writer and teacher, as well as a proud IPS graduate. In addition to her work at Tech, she is a member of the Learning for Justice Ambassador Collective and the Hoosier Writing Project. She believes in the creative genius of all students. 

Rebecca Huehls

Shortridge High School

Rebecca Huehls is a lifelong learner and writer, teacher, and editor. She delights in encouraging all students to channel their interests and passions into their writing.

Brooklyn Raines

Crispus Attucks High School

Brooklyn Raines is a poet and educator who is passionate about her students’ education and success. Born and raised in Indianapolis, she takes pride in giving back to her city and community through encouraging others to find their voices and love themselves.



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.