Mission & Vision

The Octavia Project uses speculative fiction as a lens through which to envision new futures and greater possibilities for our world; blending creative writing, art, science, and technology, our programming increases confidence and skills in a myriad of subjects while fostering leadership and community. 

Our inspiration and namesake is Octavia E. Butler, who broke barriers in writing and science fiction to become an award-winning and internationally recognized author. We are inspired by her explorations of alternate futures and commitment to social justice.

Read more about us on Writer’s Digest, Electronic Lit, Daily News, and Barnes & Noble blog. And see more about our connections to the tech, publishing, arts, non-profit, and education fields through our advisory board.

How We Do It

Our free summer programs bring together young women and trans and nonbinary youth to build new worlds. We believe that their ideas and imaginations are vital to a more just and equitable future and provide them with the support and tools to build their dreams. Through our curriculum, young folks explore how the world around them is created by a series of choices that can be remade or replaced.

summer enrichment

We run two free summer programs, our Summer Institute for ages 14-18, now in it’s eighth year, and our Summer Camp for ages 10-13, which debuted in summer 2021.

We use speculative fiction and interdisciplinary workshops to spark interest in and break down bias around STEM subjects like science and tech. Participants stretch their minds by musing on alternate histories with authors like Hugo Award winner N.K. Jemisin; coding interactive games; worldbuilding with architects; and mapping new cities with urban planners. In these explorations, their work grapples with gentrification, body image, climate change, racism, homophobia, and more. 

Through our robust and in-depth curriculum, participants build necessary skills like critical thinking, digital media literacy, and creative problem-solving while gaining confidence in their voice and vision. Our teens end the summer empowered to lead and effect change in their schools, communities, and cities. 

Hear what some of our participants have to say about their experience.

leadership opportunities

The Octavia Project prioritizes community, respect, and support, and we work hard to create an environment rooted in joy and self love. Our Fellowship Program gives returning participants age 16 and up the opportunity to take on leadership and mentoring roles in addition to all the benefits of participating in our Summer Institute.

Fellows lead workshop exercises, advise program leaders, and mentor new participants. As experienced Octavia Project participants, our Fellows connect with younger or shyer participants and flex new leadership skills by organizing extracurricular activities like clothing swaps and group canoe trips. 

Once Fellows have graduated high school, they are eligible for our Teaching Fellows program, which including trainings and paid teaching positions in our summer programs.

career exploration

Guest teachers and speakers weave their expertise into our curriculum to expand participants’ skill sets and broaden their horizons. Each summer, our roster of guest teachers showcases leaders in fields of art, writing, architecture, graphic design, computer programming, city planning, biology, and more. Participants learn critical 21st century skills while being exposed to a wide variety of career paths, modeled by women, trans, and nonbinary people of color. Past guest teachers include:

  • Award winning author N.K. Jemisin
  • Award winning editor and anthologist Ann VanderMeer
  • NY Times best-selling author Ibi Zoboi
  • Digital product designer Amélie Lamont
  • Urban planner Daphne Lundi
  • Multi-disciplinary artist Miatta Kawinzi