What started out as two friends sharing their feelings in letters during the pandemic eventually evolved into Project Outwrite. Creighton University and College Possible student Tran started the nonprofit with her friends as a way for young adults ages 19–25 to connect with their peers by becoming pen pals.
Tran began her first year of college during COVID-19 and felt isolated and unsure of whom to turn to for help regarding her feelings. After confiding in a friend who shared that they felt the same way, the two started writing letters to each other to help ease their feelings of anxiety and frustration. Tran said it was easier to get her thoughts down on paper than to say them aloud. The two began writing back and forth in February 2021, and after continuing their exchange for three months, they decided to include other friends to see if they would experience the same sense of relief and connection.
We realized that many people are struggling with mental health because of the pandemic. Not only is it helpful to write your feelings on paper and meet a new friend, but it’s also exciting to get a letter in the mail for you,” she said.
Tran and her friends launched Project Outwrite in June 2021 and currently have 30 people using the service. Program participants are connected anonymously but may choose to reveal their identities to their pen pal at any time.
The program is not just for people struggling with their mental health but also for people who simply want to make new friends. Tran and her fellow Project Outwrite founders plan to continue growing it. The program is free and can help participants in many ways.
While Tran runs her nonprofit, she is also a business major working toward finishing her degree. She fell in love with business during her senior year of high school, when she had the opportunity to work remotely for several organizations in the Omaha metropolitan area.
On the strength of her remote working experience, running Project Outwrite and her college degree, Tran hopes to own her own business after graduation. She loves fashion and would love to own a fashion-related business.
I’ve always loved fashion because it is a way to express myself, and I’d love to help others find that creativity as well,” she said.
Tran joined the College Possible program in her junior year of high school and said she found her coaches’ support helpful while working toward her goals. She especially appreciated the assistance she received preparing for the ACT, finishing her Common Application, and completing her FAFSA form. Tran says that having a dedicated college coach was helpful because she knew she always had someone to reach out to with questions.
If you’d like to get involved with the Project Outwrite community by donating or becoming a participant, visit them at projectoutwrite.com/ and follow them on Instagram, @ProjectOutwrite.