The Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop started in 2000 at the University of Dayton as a one-time event to commemorate the Bombeck family's gift of Erma's papers to the university. The event proved so popular that it has been held every other year since then. The two-day, three-night workshop includes keynote speakers and breakout sessions on the topics of humor writing, human interest writing, the publishing process, marketing for authors and blogging, among other areas. Past keynote speakers have included Art Buchwald, Nancy Cartwright, Dave Barry, Garrison Keillor, Mike Peters, Bil Keane, Phil Donahue and others. More than 350 writers from around the country attend each workshop, which is held on the University of Dayton campus.
The personal involvement of the Bombeck family, which spans three generations, makes the event memorable and sets it apart from the myriad other writers' workshops around the nation.
In 2004, University of Dayton alumnus Ralph Hamberg and his wife, Cindy, gave a $100,000 gift to start a workshop endowment fund in memory of her cousin, Brother Tom Price, S.M. This University of Dayton English professor first told Erma "three little words" of encouragement, "You can write!"  The endowment helps keep the workshop affordable for writers. In addition, the University of Dayton's Alumni Association underwrites the cost of scholarships that allow University of Dayton students to attend for free.
This effort to honor humorist Erma Bombeck's legacy goes beyond the writers' workshop. The workshop has spawned a blog http://www.humorwriters.org/ Humorwriters.org]; an online museum [www.ermamuseum.org/ ermamuseum.org]; a documentary produced by ThinkTV and distributed nationally through American Public Television; an international writing competition hosted by the Washington-Centerville Public Library; an Ohio historical marker on the University of Dayton's campus; a monthly e-newsletter; a Facebook page; a Twitter feed; and an active online discussion group.
In 2006, the workshop created the world's longest Mad Lib. In 2010, "CBS Sunday Morning With Charles Osgood"  aired a Mother's Day tribute to Erma Bombeck, using the workshop as a backdrop. In 2013, AAA Journeys magazine  traced Dayton’s literary heritage — and pointed to the University of Dayton’s efforts to keep Erma Bombeck’s legacy alive through a workshop in her name. In 2014, Parade.com featured a series of pieces about the workshop and Erma Bombeck's enduring appeal.
The workshop was first created by Teri Rizvi and Bob Daley. Tim Bete directed the workshop from 2004 to 2008. Matt Dewald directed it from 2010-2012. Today, Teri Rizvi and Annette Taylor serve as co-directors.
The Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop is believed to be the only national workshop for humor writers.