2021 - 2023

Cita Press: Getting Fit

Building organizational capacity for an open-access, feminist press and library

Through this project, Educopia will partner with Cita Press Founder and Art Director, Juliana Castro, to build organizational capacity and a sustainability roadmap for Cita Press (citapress.org). In direct alignment with objectives of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Public Knowledge Program, Cita Press celebrates the spread of culture and knowledge by publishing the writings of women authors whose works are open-licensed or in the public domain. Through its library of collaboratively designed free books, Cita honors the principles of decentralization, collective knowledge production, and equitable access to knowledge.

Acting as community cultivation advisor, Educopia will guide and oversee a range of community cultivation activities that draw on more than a decade of work with collaborative communities tackling key challenges in the creation, sharing, and preservation of knowledge. Planned activities include: documenting and refining the long-term vision for the press; assessing current infrastructure; supporting further engagement and growth of Cita’s community of readers and contributors; supporting the development and convening of Cita’s Advisory Board; and determining a fundraising strategy and organizational model for Cita.

Project Deliverables

  • Publication of three new texts by Cita Press: Texts selected for publication are subject to change, however, the three proposed thus far include:
    • Nobel Lectures: The lectures of the female Nobel Laureates in Literature: Doris Lessing, Wisława Szymborska, Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, Svetlana Alexievich, Nadine Gordimer, and Herta Müller.
    • A text by Edith Wharton: We are considering publishing something by first female Pulitzer winner Edith Wharton. So far, the books that fit Cita’s suggested length are The Writing of Fiction, which entered the public domain in 2021, Early Short Fiction of Edith Wharton and New Year’s Day from the small collection Old New York.
    • St. Theresa’s Meditations on Song of Songs: It’s an enigma that we can even read the Meditations on the Song of Songs by Saint Theresa. This biblical text has been the subject of multiple interpretations due to the eroticism of the images. Her confessor ordered the manuscript destroyed for fear that it would come to the hands of the Inquisition and Teresa burned it in front of him, according to several witnesses. This title will be the first text published in Spanish once multilingual support is fully implemented on the website.
  • Revised community publication workflow and community publication roles: The third book’s finalization and publication will double as a pilot period for the newly formalized community roles that are intended to distribute more of the publication and editorial tasks to the community members and introduces minimal additional costs of operating the press. This outcome will serve the Cita community of readers and contributors by allowing the organization to continue to accomplish its open-access mission without volunteer burnout. 
  • Establishment and Retention of Advisory Board member engagement beyond the project period: The Cita Press Advisory Board will play a critical role in building capacity as each of the proposed members represent experience and expertise in one or more core areas of focus: fundraising or broad visibility and the capability to attract donors and contributors; publishing; design; and copyright law. The Advisory Board will advise on the development of a selection development policy for future books which will expand the number of perspectives and voices that are shaping the Cita Press catalog long term. Additionally, the work of establishing an Advisory Board lays a foundation for establishing a nonprofit board in the event that Cita chooses to incorporate as a 501(c)3.
  • Clear and explicit selection development policy for books and other texts that Cita Press will publish: To date, the books published primarily by Cita Press have been selected by its founder, Ms. Castro. Book titles may be suggested by readers, newsletter subscribers, past contributors, and published lists of critically acclaimed women authors or books written by women authors. The actual selection of the books that will be published is initially based on a preliminary assessment of length, relevance, and feasibility. If those initial criteria are met, Ms. Castro often reads the book to make additional determinations as to the book’s overall readability and the likelihood of reader engagement. The development of clearer and more explicit guidelines for book nomination as well as selection will serve to cultivate the Cita community of readers and contributors by making room for more voices and perspectives to shape the Cita catalog.
  • Community stakeholder map and engagement plan for Cita Press: One of the project outcomes is a clearer understanding of who the Cita community is currently as well as who and how to target future contributors, reader populations, strategic partners, and potential funders. Both the map and engagement plan will serve as a tool to better understand the interests and needs of the Cita community and partners, and as a strategic planning tool for the expansion of the community and its partners. 
  • Determination of the best organizational model and legal status for Cita Press: While Cita does not currently exist as a legal entity, this will likely prove to be a necessary step in building Cita’s capacity. As a legal entity, Cita will have a much broader range of possibilities in terms of fundraising as well as the choice of its long term organizational home and/or structure. 
  • Determination of costs of operating Cita Press without reliance on volunteer contributions: One of the sustainability and business planning activities scheduled for early in the second year of the project is the creation of an operational budget for Cita. This operational budget will assign costs to all aspects of Cita’s operations. The budget is a foundational document that translates the volunteer effort and in-kind donations characteristic of Cita’s pre-Formation period into real costs. With transparent operational costs, the team can determine the best path forward for strategic and business planning, which will ultimately enable the press to continue its work and ultimately expand its impact.
  • Strategic Plan and Business Prospectus for Cita Press: The development of Cita’s strategic plan and business prospectus is a core deliverable of Cita Press: Getting Fit. This document will include goals and actionable next steps for Cita from 2023 – 2026. This document will also include a list of all of Cita’s current organizational assets, how those assets will be maintained moving forward, and where those assets can be transferred if Cita chooses to sunset at some point in the future. 
  • Initial implementation of Cita Press 2023-2026 Strategic Plan and Business Prospectus: Cita will not only develop but implement key components of the strategic plan and business plan by the end of the project period, including finalizing Cita’s near-term legal status and organizational model (creating a legal entity or establishing a relationship with a fiscal sponsor), a public fundraising campaign, and submission of at least one follow-on grant proposal. 
  • Growth in online engagement across Cita’s platforms:  A considerable amount of Cita’s volunteers and readers have come through social media, however, Cita’s social media presence and outreach are slow given the lack of organizational capacity. We believe these communications channels with readers are fundamental to the success and health of the press and commit to devoting time to make sure that Cita’s presence on these platforms is maintained, while also exploring alternatives to community communication channels that are not solely dependent on commercial social media platforms.