Educator & Founder of The Freedom Writers Foundation

Erin Gruwell

Fee Range

< $25,000

Travels From

Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA

At a glance:

Erin Gruwell has earned an award-winning reputation for her steadfast commitment to the future of education. Her impact as a change agent attracted Hollywood’s attention, and in 2007, Paramount Pictures released Freedom Writers, starring two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank as Erin.

Erin Gruwell has earned an award-winning reputation for her steadfast commitment to the future of education. Her impact as a change agent attracted Hollywood’s attention, and in 2007, Paramount Pictures released Freedom Writers, starring two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank as Erin. The film is based on The Freedom Writers Diary, the New York Times bestseller that chronicled Erin’s extraordinary journey with her 150 high school students who dubbed themselves the “Freedom Writers”in homage to Civil Rights activists the Freedom Riders.

By fostering an educational philosophy that valued and promoted diversity, she transformed her students’ lives. She encouraged them to re-think rigid beliefs about themselves and others, reconsider their own daily decisions, and ultimately, re- chart their future. With Erin’s support, they chose to forego teenage pregnancy, drugs, and violence in order to become aspiring college students, published writers, and citizens for change.

Inspired by Anne Frank, Erin and her students captured their collective journey in The Freedom Writers Diary. Through poignant student entries and Erin’s narrative text, the book records their “eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding.”Their inspiring story of success is also chronicled in the documentary, Freedom Writers: Stories from an Undeclared War, which features behind the scenes footage of Erin and the Freedom Writers from their freshman year to present day.
While Erin 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. Erin decided to channel her classroom experiences toward a broader cause, and today her impact as a teacher extends well beyond Room 203. Erin founded the Freedom Writers Foundation where she currently teaches educators around the world how to implement her innovative lesson plans into their own classrooms.

Erin’s teaching methods from her time in Room 203 have been published in her powerful call to arms, Teach With Your Heart as well the Freedom Writers Diary Teacher’s Guide. Erin and teachers she’s trained known as Freedom Writer Teachers collaborated to write Teaching Hope, a book in which stories from “the front lines of education take [the reader] from the anticipation of the first day to the disillusionment, challenges, and triumphs of the school year.”

Erin 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. Their story has earned them dozens of awards, including the Spirit of Anne Frank Award. Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writer Teachers also collaborated with Scholastic to create On the Record, an innovative reading and writing program. On the Record uses the Freedom Writer Methodologies to improve students’ reading and writing skills, as well as their lives.

Erin continues to fight for equality in education and inspires teachers and students all over the world with her work.

  • Nurturing the Leader Within

    Filled with anecdotes from teachers across the country, Gruwell’s presentation proves that the methodology she has developed is not location-specific, but can be implemented in all types of schools and communities. In "Nurturing the Leader Within," Erin explores her personal journey and her students' transformations from disgruntled high school students to leaders and activists, illustrating that everyone has the power to embrace change and become a leader in their own community.
  • Achieving the Impossible: Become a Catalyst for Change

    Erin Gruwell found herself the teacher for a troubled group of students who had been dubbed “unteachable.” The tale of how this first-year teacher encouraged these wayward inner city kids to redirect their lives, forego rampant drugs and the violence that pervaded their neighborhoods is the story recounted in the best-selling The Freedom Writers Diary. From the stark reality of one seemingly innocuous event in the classroom, she sparked a chord in the students that led the class to name themselves the “Freedom Writers.” Over the course of a few months, Gruwell empowered the class to re-chart their future and go on to become college students, published writers and citizens for change.In a powerful presentation that leaves audiences cheering, Gruwell parlays her story into ways the audience can improve their performance and productivity by asking "what can I do to make a difference?" Gruwell speaks to the authenticity and stamina needed to fuel change. An emotional connection with your work and life goals is a powerful force that can produce an unstoppable vision against all odds. Gruwell speaks from her heart, customizing every speech to her audience and shares:How even little events can fuel transformational changeHow to develop an environment of trust and communicationWays that individuals can become catalysts for change in their own livesHow to harness your own personal power and determination to accomplish success that others may not think is possible.
She was fantastic, fabulous... Erin is really the best speaker we have ever had. In addition to being a wonderful person, she consistently delivers all of the elements we look for: inspirational story, customization of material and excellent delivery. She keeps changing it up for our different audiences.

—Villager

Last night was AWESOME. Erin was incredible. She really brought the house down. She stayed and signed books for about 45 minutes afterwards. We ordered 100 books and actually ran out. We needed twice that amount. Her message really struck home with our campus. I would say that we had over 650 people in attendance.

—Northwest Missouri State

Erin is an absolutely dynamic speaker and her message is obviously from the heart. She expressed a feeling of kinship with our group because we all work with at-risk kids and have a passion for trying to turn lives around. A lot of people emailed me today about what a great speaker she was. We all love her!

—KY Dept of Juvenile Justice

Erin Gruwell absolutely brought the house down. The feedback was universally positive, starting with a standing ovation after the introduction of her and followed by a standing ovation at the conclusion of her remarks. I’d say it was a success.

—Québec English School Boards Association

How California Teacher Erin Gruwell Inspired a Generation of Writers

Erin Gruwell took a job student teaching at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California in 1994. Over the next four years, she found she changed not only her own life but also those of the 150 students that ... Read more

by PBS

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