Franci Neely Supports the 40th Anniversary of Inprint

Franci Neely believes giving back is always in style and says she’s proud to be a longtime supporter of Inprint, a Houston-based literary arts nonprofit organization founded in 1983. 

“Through its 40 years of celebrating the diversity of literature supporting writers of all ages and backgrounds, Inprint has become an internationally renowned literary light and power,” philanthropist and former president of the organization Franci Neely said in a press release. “Serving as Inprint’s board president was my singular honor, working with Rich [Levy] and Krupa [Parikh] and former associate director Marilyn [Jones] in the atmosphere of grace and wit and warmth they created. My life is richer because of it. Congratulations, Inprint, on your 40 years of extraordinary excellence in the literary arts.”

Inprint is one of the many communities causes Franci Neely has supported over the years. Whether she’s building a water play area for children through a donation to Hermann Park Conservancy or championing the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Franci Neely says giving back in meaningful ways has always been a cause close to her heart. 

Franci Neely Focuses on the Art of Philanthropy

“​​The arts have always been a part of me,” Franci Neely says. “The arts have enriched my life. I view [giving back] as almost a moral obligation when one has been fortunate.”

Serving more than 15,000 readers and writers annually, Inprint offers workshops, readings, and literary events and programs that benefit the Houston community and beyond.

The Houston Press voted Inprint Writers Workshops Houston’s Best Place For Aspiring Writers. Led by established authors, the workshops are offered in creative nonfiction, poetry, flash fiction, memoir, and more. 

While Inprint was run exclusively by volunteers until 1991, eventually the literary hub received funding to take on full-time staff.

Inprint has also partnered with the University of Houston Creative Writing Program and collaborated with area bookstores, senior centers, schools, hospital veterans centers, the Harris County jail, and more, to support writers and empower storytellers everywhere.

“I don’t think we really create community so much as provide a space for the community to evolve,” Marcia West, Inprint’s current board chair, says. “What Inprint does is offer a space where you easily can integrate literature, reading, and writing into your everyday life.”

Inprint Makes Imprint on Writing Community

Inprint’s executive director Rich Levy says he’s particularly proud of the impact his organization has had on local youth. “They’re reading on their own and they’re starting to value what a book means to them,” Levy says.  “So to meet an author, ask questions, and get a book signed by the author, it can be really inspiring for a kid.”

Inprint offers a plethora of literary-geared programs including the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series, which puts a diverse roster of award-winning authors onstage to read their works and participate in book signings and meet and greets for little or no cost for Houstonians.

For example, since 1980, the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series has presented approximately 400 extraordinary writers from 38 countries, winners of 12 Nobel Prizes, 64 Pulitzer Prizes, 57 National Book Awards, 16 Booker Prizes, as well as 19 U.S. poets laureate, in a series accessible to everyone.

Inprint Poetry Buskers were created to take poetry to the streets and compose on typewriters on various topics at festivals and other events. Inprint also hosts memoir-writing workshops for senior citizen writers, and workshops for health care providers and veterans to help with healing and dealing with complex experiences.

Inprint Has Transformed Lives One Word at a Time for Four Decades

There are Inprint workshops for incarcerated individuals at the Harris County jail. As part of the jail’s reentering program, local writers work with inmates in six-week sessions to offer them a healthy, creative channel for self-expression.

“Because of the way the system works, for their own survival they’ve been forced into a worldview that’s very black and white,” says Inprint fellow Kaj Tanaka. “One of the goals of this class is to present another option for them, and there are gray areas. I think a poetry class gives them an opportunity to be correct in whatever choices they make.”

Inprint has financially boosted struggling writers. When Inprint fellow Cait Weiss Orcutt first moved to Houston, she was experiencing financial difficulties and was shocked when Inprint presented her with a check. “It was an unbelievable gift to me,” she recalls, “like someone was saying ‘I believe in you — and your art.’”

Franci Neely says she feels Inprint has not only elevated writers in the area; it’s also strengthened the Houston community she holds so dear. 

Inprint also offers a book club, a First Friday Reading Series with area poets, a free weekly coffeehouse space to write in, the “Ink Well” podcast featuring Latinx and other writers, and cross-promotional collaborations with traveling literary events. 

“Empowering people to tell their stories is at ground zero of what we’re all about,” says Levy.

Franci Neely Gives Back Through Poets & Writers Ball

Franci Neely served on the host committee for the 2022 Inprint Poets & Writers Ball, which honored Levy for his 25 years of service to the organization. She’s been a supporter of the event for years. 

The latest Inprint Poets & Writers Ball also attracted a hometown hero: Bestselling Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan, who was raised in Houston, was a featured guest at the event, which Franci Neely helped put together.

TheNew York Times bestselling author — whose novel inspired the 2018 film Crazy Rich Asians, which made history as the first major Hollywood movie featuring an Asian and Asian American cast since The Joy Luck Club in 1993 — spoke with ABC-13 News journalist Melanie Lawson.

Attendees were given a signed, handmade chapbook based on Kwan’s work. Inprint Poets & Writers Ball also makes a splash in Houston’s social scene. It’s been featured in local media including CultureMap Houston, the Houston Chronicle, and PaperCity magazine.

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