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Get Lit Words Ignite

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Humanities

Mission: Get Lit - Words Ignite fuses classic and spoken word poetry to increase teen literacy on the page and in visual media. We cultivate enthusiastic learners emboldened to inspire social consciousness in diverse communities.

Programs: Get Lit's In-School program and curriculum is a 12-week curriculum that aligns with the California State Standards and National Common Core Standards. It is one of the few standards-based programs approved to fulfill both english language and visual and performing arts content standards. In class, Get lit students select poems by Classic poets and writers, and then they write poems in response. This reflective and expressive process ignites a passion for language that fuels learning and a life-long love of poetry and literature.

As part of our ongoing work to dismantle systemic barriers to success for our students, in 2017 we pursued and received the approval of the University of California for our full-year Words Ignite course to be an official "A-G" provider, satisfying both the "G" General Elective credit as well as the "B" English credit. This is a major development since students in under-resourced areas are often not able to get the credits they need to graduate and attend California universities, because not enough required “A-G” courses are offered at their high schools. Furthermore, because of its track record of success in engaging students who are at risk of missing an on-time graduation, in 2018 the Los Angeles Unified School Board approved our curriculum as a certified Intervention Course for 9th and 10th grade.

Get Lit’s Classic Slam program began as an effort to increase the literacy rates of Los Angeles teens and fill the gap of declining budgets for arts enrichment programs. We focus on improving literacy, graduation rates, and the self-efficacy of low-income youth. The Classic Slam is the culminating event of our standards based in-school program and is one of the largest teen poetry slams in the world, and the only to combine classic recitation with spoken word responses. Over 8,000 teens from 50+ high schools throughout Southern California take part. The Classic Slam occurs every spring around national poetry month for audiences of thousands.

The Get Lit Players program is an award winning, professional performance troupe comprised of teenagers from high schools throughout Los Angeles County, and selected through a competitive audition process. The Get Lit Players travel across the nation performing Classic and Spoken Word poetry, inspiring their peers to read, write, be leaders in their communities and participate in the arts. They meet each Saturday, logging over 300 workshop/performance hours and performing for over 20,000 of their peers each year. They have been featured at the Hollywood Bowl, on the Queen Latifah show twice, and performed at the Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and the White House. Every member has access to one-on-one college counseling through Get Lit's next step program. As a result, nearly 100% of our graduating Get Lit Players attend college.

Community Stories

13 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Board Member

Rating: 5

Get Lit Words Ignite is a poetry education program that has touched the lives of thousands of youth poets that have either gone through their program or witnessed the youth poets' performances. As a Board Member, I've seen Get Lit grow from a grass-roots organization that survived on the passion of the founder, a handful of poets and volunteers. Now, just over a decade old, Get Lit has become a multi-faceted platform that is enabling poetry to be a vehicle for these young students' talents to lead to roles in: leadership, education, arts, activism, entertainment, music, brand building, and fashion. They are paving the way and enlightening the art and education world that poetry can not be contained in some dusty books or a small theater. The Get Lit poets are performing all around the world from their local schools, Lincoln Center, the UN, to the White House.

Through this program, lives are being changed. Students are encouraged and given the tools to find their "voice", build self-confidence, while honing their writing and critical thinking skills. With the support of their community of peers, teachers, and the Get Lit executive team, these kids realize they are not alone in their journey.

Unlike many kids in high-school that are under anxiety or burn-out from competing to get to a goal that they don't understand or believe in. These poets have inspired me with their talent, focus, and commitment to their craft. They are motivated by the sheer joy that comes from their art.

The relationships that I've had with the Founder and Executive Director- Diane, the executive team, and fellow board members are based on the shared tenets: passion for poetry, believing in the power of the arts to better peoples' lives, and commitment for creating opportunity for these kids.

Get Lit has a way of embracing you- making you feel like all of us have something to contribute and that each of our gifts are valuable. I feel lucky and honored to be a part of their community.

Carole J.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I was privileged to attend the 2019 8th Annual Classic Slam (“Manifest”) in Los Angeles, where youth from over 50 LA Unified Schools performed & competed in classic and response poetry. Many of these students are recipients of “Lit Kit” in school curriculum. Amidst the electric creativity over 3 days, there were interactive workshops & panels on mental health. As an observer & writer, I was heavily impacted by the fierce power of self expression that emanated from each & every youth that filled the venue. Snapping, shouting, spewing outbursts of support they came together not to just necessarily win the competition, but to breathe fire into distinguishing themselves from others, wearing their personal beliefs, needs, fears on their sleeve, validating themselves & their concepts. The energy that jettisoned this event was palpable in a way that lifted & reminded me that conversations can change the world. We all have a voice yet the youth of this world have more to say. This is what Get Lit promotes, nurtures and embodies. There is no silence in their manifest, only encouragement for our youth to stand tall & speak up, more than ever, in a time & age when it desperately needs to be heard.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Get Lit is an extraordinary organization! Authentic to the core. I have witnessed young people in their programs find their voice and sense of leadership over and over again. Their programs are delivered with excellence and rigor. I believe deeply in the work of this organization!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Nothing but great things to say about this powerhouse organization. They do what they say and say what they do. Literacy is their goal coupled with the giving young people who feel silenced a voice. Not much could be better. My daughter grew tremendously in her time with Get Lit and their open arms helped her develop into a expressive woman. We continue to involve ourselves in their good deeds when possible. Simply can’t recommend them enough. All the people truly embrace the mission and the young folks who “graduate” remain active in Get Lit into adulthood because it feels like the home they may never have had anywhere else. I believe in this organization with all my heart.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Get Lit is a truly transformative organization. Both the scope and depth of their reach is remarkable. As someone who has been a student who participated in the Get Lit Classic Slam, a forum where I felt empowered to express my words and my voice, and an intern in the education department, I can say that every day I feel truly lucky to be surrounded by inspiring people and inspired poetry.

Mindy F.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter received top notch instruction and support. This program is incredible for young people. They make great friends and learn to work hard towards their goal.

themiriam

Client Served

Rating: 5

Get Lit - Words Ignite is a fantastic organization. It's about poetry and literacy, but it is also about empowerment, inspiration, coming into your own. As someone who has gone through the program, I can confidently say that Get Lit has changed my life. I have met countless mentors and made lifelong friends at Get Lit. Performing with people and writing poetry together brings you so much closer to the people around you. There is nothing else like it. Get Lit has given me life long skills. It has taught me how to believe in myself, how to collaborate with other people, how to write and edit my work, how to get feedback and adjust, and how to trust the process. It has given me work experience by allowing me to freelance and perform poetry at different venues. Additionally, the film program gave me an opportunity to make movies and collaborate with poets. We were flown to San Francisco to present our film at the Student Voices Summit, where we won first place. Get Lit gave us the resources to make stuff and get our art out there. Get Lit is truly a remarkable organization that provides so many opportunities for young people, it's almost impossible not to get involved and grow as a poet, a performer, a filmmaker, an educator, and simply as a person.

1 Barbara W.2

Donor

Rating: 5

I have donated to Get Lit and recently hosted a fundraiser at my home for them. It was an extraordinary event with fantastic musicians, such as Jackson Brown and Barbara Morrison and the incredible Get Lit players. As the widow of a politician I have been involved in many fundraisers, either as a donor or as a recipient and it is always my primary concern that the maximum amount of money goes toward making positive change. I can say unequivocally that I have never felt more satisfied with the bang I got for my buck in contributing to Get Lit. The impact this organization has on the lives and destinies of young people is nothing short of phenomenal. To see teenagers learning great literature and using it as a tool to tell their own stories is a beautiful thing. I wish every high school in America could have a Get Lit program in their curriculum.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've been working with Get Lit-Words Ignite for over 9 years and it has developed me into the artist I am today. From being in this program I have received the opportunity to be mentored by masters within the field of performance poetry. It has enabled me to travel cross country speaking and facilitating workshops for countless youth. Most of my identity has been inspired by the lessons and skills I have learned in Get Lit. I wouldn't be the artist, much less the person, I am today.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Get Lit is an incredible organization that helps youth find their voice. Building confidence , critical thinking and artistic creation. They do a wonderful job and I could not sing their praises more.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Get Lit - Words Ignite absolutely changed the entire course of my life.

I met Get Lit when I was just 18 years old, when I auditioned to become a Get Lit Player. The Get Lit Players are a traveling troupe of poets who go around schools in the greater Los Angeles School District and beyond to perform poetry, speak about their lives, and get kids excited about literature and literacy. I, thankfully, made the team, and little did I know, it would change everything about my world.

I started getting paid to perform my poetry in front of hundreds of people, was flown out to New York to see the last night of Hamilton with the original cast, and as a result, now work in non-profit development, as well as teaching and performance artist work.

If I had never met Get Lit, I have no idea who I would be as a person, or what I would be doing. Get Lit helped me find my voice, and made me aware that I even had one. And after helping me find it, Get Lit also helped me amplify my voice by offering support spaces and platforms for voices like mine to speak.

Growing up in an Asian American household, I did not get a lot of reinforcement to speak my mind or talk about how I feel. My expression was repressed. Get Lit feels like coming up for air when you've been holding your breath underwater.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am lucky to say I have experience with Get Lit as both student and teacher. In high school, their curriculum helped me realize that poetry was an art that I loved and cherish to this day. I fell in love with the work that I began to volunteer and tried out for their poetry troupe. Through this group I received professional writing and performance training for free!! Following this I was able to receive professional development and eventually work with the organization as a teaching artist. This organization has helped develop me from high school through college. The staff was loving and the mentors were brilliant. I have nothing but good words about this organization!!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I first got to know Get Lit several years ago when I began volunteering for them. Get Lit is not simply a curriculum that stems the increase of illiteracy in "at risk" youth. It is profoundly effective in motivating students to read more, learn more, write more and build confidence in themselves. Get Lit is a community that embraces all who participate in it. A safe haven where youth can express themselves and be embraced. The program turns out some of the most incredible "spoken word" poets who must be seen and heard to truly understand the scope of this amazing organization. I am profoundly moved by the important work Get Lit does and the results I see in front of me on a daily basis.