As a University of Dayton student, humorist Erma Bombeck heard “three magic words” from an English professor: “You can write!”
In preparation and celebration of the 10th anniversary workshop in 2018, a generous donor has stepped forward with a $20,000 challenge gift to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop to make sure other aspiring writers receive the same encouragement. Between now and Dec. 31, all donations to the workshop will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $20,000.
The funds will be used to help keep the nationally renowned workshop affordable for writers.
“We are so grateful for this generous support. If we had to charge all our expenses to workshop attendees, our registration fee would more than double,” said Teri Rizvi, who founded the workshop in 2000 as a way to honor Bombeck’s legacy and inspire writers. “The workshop gives writers — both aspiring and seasoned — the courage to pursue their dreams.”
Online donations can be made here. Checks can be mailed to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, University of Dayton, 300 College Park, Dayton, OH 45469-7054. If you or your spouse works for a matching gift company, the impact of your gift may be doubled or tripled. Please check here or your human resources office for details.
The workshop also will be part of #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to philanthropy on Nov. 29. Following “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” “Giving Tuesday” kicks off the traditional season of giving. Read about our social media campaign here.
Joe Valenzano, chair of the University of Dayton’s communication department, said the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop is worthy of support for the way it provides valuable hands-on learning for students and writers from all parts of the country.
“The workshop has demonstrated its value time and again, helping inspire and educate aspiring and professional writers. In my mind, and for those who attend, it is the ‘Hope Diamond’ of writing workshops and a University of Dayton treasure. As such, we need to nurture it to ensure that students and writers across the country continue to benefit from it,” said Valenzano, who serves on the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop campaign committee.
Since the inaugural workshop in 2000, literally thousands of writers, inspired by Bombeck’s humor and humanity, have gathered at her alma mater to laugh and learn from an impressive lineup of keynote speakers and presenters, including Dave Barry, Garrison Keillor, Phil Donahue, Nancy Cartwright, Roy Blount Jr., Don Novello, Gail Collins, Lisa Scottoline, Alan Zweibel and Leonard Pitts. The wildly popular workshop always sells out.
Approximately 400 writers from 35 states and two countries participated in the 2016 workshop, which sold out in record time — less than six hours.
“It’s fitting that we honor and nurture Erma’s legacy at the University of Dayton, where she found support and inspiration for her life’s work,” said Vicki Giambrone ’81, trustee emeritus and former president of the Alumni Association who helped launch the workshop.
“The University of Dayton has always provided a safe place to explore for all who want to learn and grow. The workshop’s educational mission showcases how the University of Dayton nurtures talent and aspirations. When those talents blossom, writers have the power to change the world,” said Giambrone, who serves on the campaign committee.
The University of Dayton’s Alumni Association underwrites the cost of scholarships that allow between 25 and 30 University of Dayton students to attend the workshop for free. The University of Dayton’s Human Resources Office provides 10 scholarships for faculty and staff.
In 2004, University of Dayton alumnus Ralph Hamberg and his wife Cindy gave a $100,000 gift to start a workshop endowment fund in memory of her cousin, Brother Tom Price, S.M., the English professor who launched Erma’s career with three simple words of encouragement. The Hamberg family, the Bombeck family, workshop faculty members, volunteers, writers and other supporters continue to contribute to the endowment fund. In 2015, actress and playwright Mary Lou Quinlan brought her one-woman show, “The God Box, A Daughter’s Story,” to campus for two benefit performances for the endowment.
For more ways to support the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, click here.