In 2015, Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation (VONA/Voices) partnered with the University of Miami and moved its core program to the Coral Gables campus. After 15 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, The College of Arts & Sciences, along with the Department of English and the Creative Writing Program, welcomed VONA/Voices, the only multi-genre writing workshop for writers of color in the nation.

Now in its second year and responding to changing reading tastes and the needs of potential students, VONA has added two new classes for 2016. Young Adult Literature with Daniel José Older answers the demand for more writers of color in the YA genre, while Essay with Kiese Laymon reflects the growing influence of writers of color such as Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay.

VONA's commitment to artistic excellence, social justice, and the empowerment of the community of writers of color runs parallel to the University of Miami’s values of academic and artistic excellence and its own ongoing commitment to diversity.

“Not only is Miami a natural home for cultural journeys,” writes Diem Jones, VONA/Voices executive director, “but we are thrilled to partner with the UM Creative Writing leadership which has clearly demonstrated an alignment with the mission of VONA serving the writing community of color. We are honored, humbled and excited about making this next step in our partnership with the University of Miami as well as landing in the international, cross-cultural hub of Miami.”

VONA/Voices—founded in 1999 by Elmaz Abinader, Junot Díaz, Victor Díaz and Diem Jones—develops emerging writers of color through programs and workshops taught by such luminaries as Jeffrey Renard Allen, Mat Johnson, Cristina Garcia, Chris Abani, David Mura, Tananarive Due, and Suheir Hammad, among others.  The workshops have inspired more than 2,000 emerging writers of color.  Among them are Tayari Jones, Maaza Mengiste, Deborah Santana, Patricia Engle and Laila Lalami.

VONA board member and director of Miami’s Creative Writing Program, M. Evelina Galang, initiated the partnership with the English department as well as the College of Arts & Sciences where VONA now makes its home.  “When VONA/Voices held weekend workshops on our campus during Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2012 and 2013,” said Galang, “the campus and writers from around Miami-Dade lit up with the magic that is VONA.”

Dean Leonidas G. Bachas, said, “The presence of VONA/Voices on our Coral Gables campus will have an enormous impact on our community as we support and engage the University’s commitment to diversity, featuring nationally and internationally known writers of color including our own director of creative writing, M. Evelina Galang.”

Apply for VONA at UM 2016