OVERVIEW: Colorado Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires Activities

Presented by:
Colorado Humanities
Current Initiative: Centennial Campfires National Partner: The Pulitzer Prizes Local Partner: Colleges and Universities, K-12 Institutions, Libraries Subject: Cross-Cultural Understanding, History, Indigenous Peoples, Journalism, K-12 Education, Other, Varies Audience: All, Colleges and Universities, Educators, K-12

Colorado Humanities created “The American West as Living Space: Colorado Humanities Pulitzer Campfires Project” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the awarding of the Pulitzer Prizes. This program integrated itself within two already successful council programs: Writers in the Schools and the Colorado Humanities Speakers Bureau. With these programs and their integration into already popular council programs, Colorado Humanities sought to introduce Colorado students and adult readers to the writings of Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists who focused on the American West. The first step to tie the programs together was the creation of a reader that the council entitled, “The American West as Living Space: Readings and Facilitated Conversations,” which was edited by Dr. Ron Edgerton, Professor Emeritus, University of Northern Colorado and Colorado Humanities Program Director Josephine Jones. For “Writers in the Schools” the reader serves as a model of outstanding writing in journalism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for high school writers. For the “Speakers Bureau” the reader serves as a basis for three to four evenings of discussions among adults.


The council launched the Writers in the Schools Pulitzer model initially through a pilot program at Grand Junction High School where seven workshops were held in three 11th grade classes for a total of 21 workshops engaging 73 student writers and their teachers. Following the pilot, the council implemented the Writers in the Schools program at Animas High School in Durango, CO where it served 37 students in two classrooms in the 10th grade. Writer-in-Residence David Holub led eleven workshops in four genres in six weeks that culminated in an anthology publication and release in February 2016. Fairview High School in Boulder, CO also hosted a Writers in the Schools program, which served more than 200 students in seven classrooms with 11 workshops stretched out over more time. Writers-in-Residence Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Marianne Colahan, Moira Casados Cassidy and Monica Prince led the workshops in four genres that also culminated in an anthology publication and school-wide anthology release May 2017. Other Writers in the Schools activities included:

  • Scenic Elementary (Grand Junction, CO): Jill Burkey and Rebecca Mullen conducted six poetry 12-week classroom residencies for more than 140 students
  • University of Denver (Denver, CO) students were trained on how to conduct residencies at Denver and Boulder elementary schools by Eleni Sikelianos. The university students served more than 185 students with 10-week residencies culminating in a published anthology
  • In total, more than 630 students participated in this program.


Through a partnership with the High Plains Library District (Greeley, CO), the council distributed copies of the reader to 37 adults who expressed a desire to participate and a willingness to attend the four discussion sessions after completing the reading for each session.  Using the National Endowment for the Humanities’ “Let’s Talk About It” program model, the council worked with a facilitator to lead the discussion while providing plenty of opportunity for participants to weigh in on the conversation. At the third session, two editors from The Greeley Tribune (Randy Bangert and Dan England) helped Dr. Edgerton facilitate the discussion of two Pulitzer Prize winning series in the Los Angeles Times where they clarified the difference between feature writing and explanatory writing.  Elizabeth Fenn, Pulitzer Prize winner in History, also led a discussion of her award winning history of the Mandan Indians, which ended in a wrap-up “graduation” pot-luck. In all, more than 20 libraries expressed interest in the program, which included a 100-page anthology of Pulitzer Prize literature selected by Dr. Ronald Edgerton, scholar.


  • Grand Junction High School
  • High Plains Library District
  • Bud Werner Memorial Library
  • Vail Public Library
  • County of Park Public Library
  • Nederland Public Library
  • Carbondale Public Library
  • La Veta Regional Library District
  • Pine River Library
  • AnyThink Library
  • Sterling Library
  • Fairview High School
  • Animas High School
  • Scenic Elementary
  • University of Denver
  • Boulder Elementary


  • Elizabeth Fenn, History (2015)


  • Nederland, CO
  • Steamboat Springs, CO
  • Grand Junction, CO
  • Vail, CO
  • Fairplay, CO
  • Thornton, CO
  • Carbondale, CO
  • Sterling, CO
  • Bayfield, CO
  • La Veta, CO
  • Durango, CO
  • Boulder, CO
  • Denver, CO

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