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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Children & Youth, Civil Rights, Intergroup & Race Relations, Race, Youth Development - Citizenship, Youth Development Programs

Mission: Youth Speaks exists to shift the perceptions of youth by combating illiteracy, alienation, and silence, creating a global movement of brave new voices bringing the noise from the margins to the core. Youth Speaks create safe spaces to empower the next generation of leaders, self-defined artists, and visionary activists through written and oral literacies. We challenge youth to find, develop, publicly present, and apply their voices as creators of social change. At Youth Speaks, the voices of youth matter. After eleven years of continued growth, Youth Speaks remains at the forefront of a dynamic and evolving movement offering young people the tools to profoundly articulate their relationship to the word in the world. Through myriad methods that facilitate the creation and preparation of work for public presentation as youth collectively and creatively engage the themes and topics most relevant to their lives, Youth Speaks has captured a moment in time when a cross-demographic representation of youth are actively embracing literary arts. As a national leader in this movement, Youth Speaks argues for a concrete and ethical understanding of language and community, one that requires creativity, response, action, and performance. In contemporary society, the youth artist/activist/educator plays a greater role in forging new language through the avenues of literacy and literary performance, becoming a model for the development of emerging voices. Through this partnership with the Ford Foundation, we can further expand the breadth and scope of a benchmark program that engage youth in this new movement in arts education, oral literacy, and positive youth development, and properly support the driving forces, transferable skills, and modes of literacy that are making the word a living, breathing part of young people?s lives in urban, suburban, rural and international communities.

Programs: Founded in 1996 in San Francisco, Youth Speaks is the leader of a national Spoken Word performance, education, and youth development movement. With ongoing, comprehensive programs in the San Francisco Bay Area serving 45,000 youth locally, Youth Speaks facilitates safe spaces within and outside of public institutions where youth can critically analyze, write and voice their own experiences through this powerful artistic medium to thousands of their peers. Due to a thriving need for accessible youth arts programs, Youth Speaks has also opened organizational chapters in New York, Hawaii, Madison, Wisconsin, Seattle, the Twin Cities, Ann Arbor, Los Angeles, and Baton Rouge. Through its Brave New Voices network, Youth Speaks advises on and supports the development of articulate, socially conscious and courageous youth in over 40 additional communities through local organizations, supporting over 250,000 young writers 13-19 years old. After eleven years of continued growth and success, Youth Speaks is in a position to foster the artistic and social development of an entire generation. Like no other program in the world, Brave New Voices organizes an artistic, politically progressive youth movement that transcends ethnic, cultural, class, gender, orientation, language, and age lines on a national level through the art form of spoken word. Total Number of Youth (Bay Area) Served Per Year: 45,000 Age: 13 - 24 51% Male 49% Female 81% of school-aged youth are eligible for free or reduced school lunch program 34% African-American 22% Latino 23% Asian-American 8% Pacific Islander 7% White, non-Hispanic 1% Native-American 5% Other

Community Stories

2 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

Being a part of Youth Speaks back when I was in high school was so transformational! The workshops and under-21 open mics were a great way to help me find & develop my voice and build community.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have had the pleasure and priviledge of being a volunteer and a board member at Youth Speaks for the past 6+ years and have seen this organization make a difference in the lives of thousands of Bay Area Youth. Youth Speaks has created a space and community for young people to share thier stories, encourage each others work and build lasting connnections with educators, activists, their local communities and each other. If you have never been to a Bay Area Grand Slam Final, semi-final or Brave New Voices Finals (appearing on HBO) you should at your first opportunity, I guarantee you will be blown away by the power, inspiration and relevancy of Youth Speaks and its poets.