The New York State Literary Center, The Communication Project, Arts in Education
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Rebuilding Families

Incarceration has significant and long lasting impacts on families. Rochester parents serving sentences of one year or under at Monroe Correctional Facility do not suffer the consequences alone; the children of incarcerated parents often lose contact with their parents and many times visits are rare. Children of incarcerated parents are more likely to drop out of school, engage in delinquent behavior, and subsequently be incarcerated themselves. 

In 2014, the New York State Literary Center, in partnership with the Office of The Sheriff and the Rochester Broadway Theater League, piloted “Rebuilding Families” to rebuild and reaffirm the family for incarcerated parents and to reduce the impact of incarceration for their children through a program designed to connect newly released inmates with their families through attendance at a Broadway musical. The project was designed to build upon the New York State Literary Center’s knowledge and experience with arts integrated learning programming and the Rochester Broadway Theater League’s commitment to community engagement.

Rebuilding Families supports parent / child relationships through arts based projects that encourage good parenting as well as bonding with children and to enhance reentry by developing a means for incarcerated parents to reunite with their children.

In 2105, the “Rebuilding Families” partnership built upon the success of the Pilot Program and received funding for the partnership, through the Rochester Broadway Theater League, from The Broadway League in a rigorous national competition, the first funding ever awarded to a project that involved those incarcerated.

This is the third year of the successful “Rebuilding Families” partnership.

Incarcerated Education





Mission Statement


The New York State Literary Center (NYSLC) -- a Rochester, New York area arts education organization -- provides transformative project based learning experiences that foster literacy development, community belonging, collaboration, and dialogue, for those incarcerated.  




The Goals of NYSLC’s Incarcerated Education Programs:


Interdisciplinary Arts Engagement - To Access Diverse Learning Styles and Interests


Improve Literacy - To Develop Reading, Writing and Listening Skills; The Ability to Use Language Proficiently; and To Gain Meaning from a Critical Interpretation of Written Text


Emotional Intelligence - To Recognize One's Own and Other People's Emotions 


Critical Thinking - To Analyze and Reflect as Part of the Creative and Learning Process


Community Engagement - To Broaden the Scope, Shift the Focus, From the Individual to the Collective to Introduce the Diversity that Exists Within a Community





Notes of Two Rochester Native Sons

The New York State Literary Center’s Community Engagement Seminar

Monroe Correctional Facility

It began to seem that one would have to hold in the mind forever two ideas which seemed to be in opposition. The first idea was acceptance, the acceptance, totally without rancor, of life as it is, and men as they are: in light of this idea, it goes without saying that injustice is commonplace. But this does not mean that one could be complacent, for the second idea was of equal power: that one must never, in one’s own life, accept these injustices as commonplace but must fight them with all one’s strength. This fight begins, however, in the heart and it has now been laid to my charge to keep my own heart free of hatred and despair. This intimation made my heart heavy and, now that my father was irrecoverable, I wished that he had been inside me so that I could have searched his face for the answers which only the future would give me now.

James Baldwin. “Notes of a Native Son.” The Price of The Ticket. New York: St. Martin’s / Marek, 1985.


By Ronald Warnick

A Testament: My Journey

“Through me tell the story”

Homer, The Odyssey, Translated by Robert Fitzgerald

I am reflecting. Many things come into my mind on how history sheds light on today’s Black pain, and it reflects my life.

I, too,

was swallowed whole


the streets


this nightmare repeats.

Black youth continue to be swallowed by the streets. Every night on the Rochester news mothers weep.

They say

Black Lives Matter,


the price is cheap.

On the news every night throughout the world,

Black lives are taken in the streets.

Sometimes I am invisible when I am in plain view.

In my mind

no one, not even me, can see inside.


I cry right before your eyes

and you can’t see a tear trickle down my eyes.

My tears are all inside,

transparent to the physical eye.

I’ve become a master of how to hide,

a broken man, depressed, ready to die.

Look right at me

you can’t see I died right before your very eyes.

You never took a deep look into my eyes.


it’s my pride.

A man is not supposed to cry.

It’s a sign of weakness.

Hell no!

They are not going to see me cry!

I’ll hide my shame and pride from those who see only my outside

with drugs and alcohol.

I will never let you see me cry.

Only when I dig deep inside

is it obvious to me I cannot hide

from myself.

(click here to continue reading)


Interview with Dale Davis, Founder and Executive Director, The New York State Literary Center

Click Here




Have you ever had a dream so big you don’t think you will ever get to it.  I do. I try to survive even if my dreams never come true. I try to live my life. I try to do it right.

It is hard when there is no light.

Can I survive if my dreams don’t come true.

I am trying to live my life, trying to do it right

It is hard.


©2016 New York State Literary Center


The New York State Literary Center
is made possible by the New York State
Council on the Arts with the support of
Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New
York State Legislature.