Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC)

Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award


The Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award, established in 2010, honors a high school junior who excels in creative writing, as well as Fran Abrams, who worked tirelessly throughout her career to support the arts and humanities in Montgomery County. The Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award is a competitive award open annually to all Montgomery County high school juniors. The awardee receives $3,000. A reception will take place at the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery in the Silver Spring Civic Building and will feature a reading by the awardee.


This award benefits a high school junior graduating in the class of 2021 who is enrolled in a public or non-public high school in Montgomery County, and who intends to pursue the study of and/or a career in creative writing. The 2019-2020 Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award will be presented to one recipient following a juried selection process that is based upon the merit of the original work submitted and the applicant’s potential for a creative writing related career, not financial need.


An applicant must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be a Montgomery County resident;
  • Be enrolled full-time during the fall of 2019 and spring of 2020 of their senior year in a public or non-public high school located in Montgomery County (Home-schooled students in Montgomery County are also eligible); and
  • Be graduating in the spring of 2021.

Application Deadline

Applications for the 2019-2020 Award must be submitted via the online FluidReview application system by Friday, January 10, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Below are the 2019-2020 guidelines for your reference:

2019-2020 Abrams Guidelines

Click here to apply or go to

Application Preparation Assistance

AHCMC staff will hold free a preparation webinar to provide assistance to those applying for the Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award. The webinar will take play on Wednesday, December 11, 2019 at 4:00 p.m. Click here to register.

Workshops are scheduled in coordination with schools. Attendance to a webinar and/or workshop is not required, however AHCMC strongly encourages all applicants to attend or reach out for preparation assistance.

Applicants are encouraged to contact AHCMC with any questions they may have. Assistance is available via email, phone or in-person by contacting Ana-Alicia Feng at or (301) 565-3805 ext. 21.

Class of 2018 Recipient: Amal Haddad

Amal Haddad is a haphazard poet, artist, and  wannabe novelist who hopes to one day finish writing her story set in the Upper Michigan Peninsula, a region she has an inexplicable fascination with and of which she has five maps on her wall, despite never having been there. Her favorite writers are Anne Carson and James Baldwin. Amal works at the Bethesda library and is currently a senior at Albert Einstein high school’s Visual Arts Center. For her art series about the AIDS epidemic and its ramifications today, Amal was named a 2018 YoungArts Silver Finalist and a semi-finalist for Presidential Scholar in the Arts. She was also a 2017 Fitzgerald Scholar, and received regional Silver Keys for Short Story and Portfolio from Scholastics. In the fall, she will attend Swarthmore College and plans to study English.


Class of 2017 Recipient: Asia Pumphrey

Asia Pumphrey is a senior at Gaithersburg High School who enjoys writing and photography. During her high school career Asia has participated in the  the Multicultural Club, Key Club, Stage Crew, Food for Thought Club, NAACP, and the Newspaper Club. Asia is currently an Editor of her the school newspaper and has had 5 of my poems published in an anthology called a celebration OF POETS from 2015 to 2017. Asia is greatly supported by her parents and friends, stating "they push me to strive for my goals and achieve above and beyond my expectations".

Artistic Statement
In my work emotions of fear, sadness, acceptance, and sometimes love are expressed by way of imagery and hyperbole. The majority of my poems are also free verse with unrhymed lines to convey a sense of confused or frenzied thinking because poetry is the only way I know how to feel and express my feelings in a healthy way. The art of writing is very cathartic for me and gives me a voice. That, being said, my poetry may blur boundaries between genres because of the fact that all of my work is the unfiltered me and I can not be defined as only one thing.


Class of 2016 Recipient: Emily Zhang

Emily Zhang is currently a senior at Richard Montgomery High School. She loves telling bits of stories through poetry, and hopes to one day work in arts advocacy where she can teach students the importance of creative expression. She is currently Editor in Chief of the The Moco Student, Montgomery County’s student newspaper, as well as News Editor of The Tide, Richard Montgomery’s High School newspaper. In addition, Emily founded Sidereal Journal, an online publication that is dedicated to showcasing the works of writers and artists who create with the purpose of shifting the perspective of the public. Emily has earned a Scholastic Art & Writing Award, and her work has been recognized by Feminist Studies, The Poetry Society of England, The Sierra Nevada Review, Princeton University, and National Poetry Quarterly, as well as many other publications. 

Artistic Statement
"Writing, originally, was a documentation of my life—I’ve kept journals since the fourth grade—but whenever I found myself uprooted into a new environment, I wrote to address this strange new sense of loneliness.Poetry is my connection of people and people, author and reader, ideas that never seemed to mesh well until they did. I love this width of possibility, this restlessness of words. I love that it inspires equal parts adventure and introspection and empathy. When China handed me a fistful of loneliness and mistranslation, I gave it line breaks on café napkins, candy wrappers, grocery store receipts. I wrote when the neighborhood bookstore stopped carrying English titles. I wrote when my grandpa passed away and left all his playing cards on the table and orange juice in the fridge."

Class of 2015 Recipient: Logan Dreher

Logan Dreher is currently a senior at Blake High School. An active member of organizations like the National Honors Society, Black Student Union, and Knitting Club, she expresses her love for writing through her leadership roles as editor-in-chief of the nationally recognized school newspaper, 'The Blake Beat,' and as president of the Creative Writing Club. She has given back to her community by obtaining over 250 community service hours. In the past, Logan has been featured in the Bethesda Magazine, and was a recipient of the National Society of Arts and Literature Award for Excellence. She owes her success to her family, friends, and writing mentor Amy Branson. 

Artistic Statement
I don't think I've ever considered why I was interested in writing before. It is something as intrinsically tied to my being as my hair or eye color. In that vein, there was never one moment I realized I wanted to write. The heavens never opened up, and God never strode out and declared, "You shall write."

Most of my life seemed impermanent and abstract; two of my best friends moved away when I was a child; my father moved to California, and then to Florida, after my parents divorced; and I felt race-less, community-less as a white looking biracial girl in an African American household. Writing made my life feel concrete. If I could just capture a moment in words, it was real and it was permanent.

Class of 2014 Recipient: Yiyi "Jessica" Li

Yiyi “Jessica” Li immigrated to America from China at the age of nine and will graduate from Richard Montgomery High School in June of 2014. Her works have been featured on Teen-Ink, Stage-of-life, and the New York Times Education Blog. She has also been recognized in nation-wide contests including the River of Words International Poetry Contest, National Creative Communications Essay Contest, and the Scholastic Writing Awards, as well as in local competitions such as the Bethesda Magazine Essay Contest, MCCPTA Reflections Contest, and One World Education Reflections Program. Jessica will attend Princeton University in the fall of 2014 and hopes to become a news reporter/commentator.

 Artistic Statement 
Illegal immigrant. Teenage mother. Housewife of a Wall Street billionaire. Do you think crime? Burden? Extravagance and perpetual festivity? After coming to America, my family moved from a grease-smelling garage-sized tenement sheltering fourteen people to a house of our own on a scenic street. The stereotypes I had been associated with in the eyes of my counterparts had changed, yet, there was always a monochromatic label that they slapped onto me. That’s what got me to pick up my pen. I write to amplify the non-mainstream voices, for I’ve witnessed the power of words to peacefully erase prejudices and open our eyes to what we once refused to see.

About the Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award 

This award is given to a high school junior who is enrolled in a public or non-public high school in Montgomery County to benefit his/her pursuit of a creative writing related career. The $3,000 Fran Abrams Award will be granted following a juried selection process that is based upon artistic merit of the original work submitted and the applicant’s potential for a career related to creative writing, not financial need.

The Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award was established in July 2010 to celebrate Abrams' contributions to Montgomery County's cultural community. Former AHCMC Grants Director and Interim Public Art Trust Director, Abrams announced her retirement from AHCMC effective July 2010. During her nearly 10 years at AHCMC, Abrams oversaw the creation of Montgomery County’s first Cultural Plan, AHCMC’s 2007 Strategic Plan and served as the agency’s Interim Director. Abrams retired after 41 years of service to Montgomery County, including 10 years with the County Government, more than 20 years in non-profit organizations focused on early childhood education, arts and the environment.

AHCMC CEO Suzan Jenkins notes, "Fran's stalwart creativity and vision are a testament to the leadership and dedication she brought to the Arts and Humanities Council. We are proud to continue her legacy for years to come by inspiring students with the Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award."

Contribute to the fund

Donations for the Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award are being accepted via our secure online donation form or by mail at AHCMC, Attn: Fran Abrams Award, 801 Ellsworth Drive, Silver Spring, MD 20910.



801 Ellsworth Drive
Silver Spring, MD 20910
T: 301-565-3805 | F: 301-565-3809

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