Campaign Kick-Off


Thursday, August 25, 2022
Food Lines Open: 11:15 am
Program: 11:30 am - 1pm
McNease Convention Center 
We are excited to announce that Erin Gruwell will be our guest speaker for our 2022 United Way Campaign Kick-Off Luncheon!

Erin Gruwell is a teacher, an education activist, and the founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation. She created the Freedom Writer Methods, a progressive teaching philosophy and curricula designed to achieve excellence from all students.

By fostering an educational philosophy that values and promotes diversity, Gruwell transformed her students’ lives. She encouraged them to re-think rigid beliefs about themselves and others, reconsider daily decisions and ultimately re-chart their futures. With Gruwell’s support, they chose to forego teenage pregnancy, drugs and violence to become aspiring college students, published writers and catalysts for change. They dubbed themselves the “Freedom Writers”—in homage to civil rights activists The Freedom Riders—and published a book.

Inspired by Anne Frank, Gruwell and her students captured their collective journey in The Freedom Writers Diary. Through poignant student entries and Gruwell’s narrative text, the book records their “eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding.” In early 2007, Teach With Your Heart, Gruwell’s powerful memoir and call to arms was published.

While Gruwell has been credited with giving her students a “second chance,” it was perhaps she who changed the most during her tenure at Wilson High School. She decided to channel her classroom experiences toward a broader cause, and today her impact as a teacher extends well beyond Room 203. Gruwell founded the Freedom Writers Foundation where she currently teaches teachers around the country how to implement her innovative lesson plans into their own classrooms. Recently, Gruwell’s teaching methods from her time in Room 203 have been published in the Freedom Writers Diary Teacher’s Guide. Proceeds from the sale of all books directly fund the Freedom Writers Foundation. Gruwell and her students have appeared on numerous television shows, including Oprah, Prime Time Live with Connie Chung, Barbara Walters’ The View and Good Morning America, to name a few. Gruwell and the Freedom Writers have earned them dozens of awards including the prestigious Spirit of Anne Frank Award.

Gruwell is a graduate of the University of California Irvine, where she received the Lauds and Laurels Distinguished Alumni Award. She earned her Master’s Degree and teaching credentials from California State University Long Beach, where she was honored as Distinguished Alumna by the School of Education.


erin gruwell


This event is free to you, thanks to our event sponsors. Please complete the form below to RSVP for the event. RSVP is required due to limited seating. Please call our office at 325-949-3716 or email for any additional questions. 


What is a Campaign Event Sponsor?

Your support through a Campaign Event Sponsorship assists United Way of the Concho Valley with the administrative costs to train the many volunteers it takes to run the Annual Campaign. In addition, your sponsorship helps cover the cost for the Campaign Kick-Off, allowing United Way to offer this event free to our community.

How will sponsoring benefit my organization?

Company logo on marketing materials and signage at campaign events
Presentation of gratitude to display at your company
Company logo displayed on the United Way website, electronic communications, and recognized on social media
Speaker sponsors will be invited to a special "Meet and Greet" with our guest speaker immediately following our Campaign Kick-Off Luncheon

Sponsorship Form - PDF

For questions about sponsoring our Campaign Events, please email or call 325.949.3716.