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2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Youth Action Coalition Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Services, Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services, Civil Rights, Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy, Youth Development Programs

Mission: Youth Action Coalition promotes youth empowerment through creative expression, community building, and social action initiatives. We help youth foster their natural talents as artists and build their strengths as community leaders and agents of change.

Target demographics: Our arts and media projects bring together youth from across the race/class/social spectrum, ages 12-18, offering access to free, high quality arts programming, helping youth break down barriers, and offering a safe space for shared dialogue and creative collaboration.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Arts-for-Change programs serves 60-80 young people annually

Geographic areas served: Amherst and Ware, MA and the surrounding communities


Our Arts-for-Change project is comprised of individual programsinterwoven through a shared pedagogy of in-depth art training, social justiceeducation and community organizing.

Through our GirlsEyeView project (photography-based project for young womenrunning in Ware since 1997 and Amherst since 1999), members have launched over45 exhibitions of their work, sold their photographs, led discussions on issuesof growing up female, and engaged in exchanges between the members of Amherstand Ware. In this context they are coming together across the race/class divideand examining critical issues together and creating artwork that speaks totheir concerns.

Get Up Get Down—a social justice public art group active since2000—works with youth in Amherst to create public works that speak to theirconcerns as youth. They have created 2 large-scale 3-D murals (one in town andone in their high school) that speak about consumerism, the aftermath of 9/11and Hurricane Katrina, and identity politics in America, as well as manyindividual artworks, a puppet parade and hosted 2 regional youth conferences intheir early years. They have recently been commissioned to produce artworks andsignage for local businesses and individuals and are making a name forthemselves as youth artists with a mission.

In Video Vanguards (active since 2003), youth of color and allies worktogether as media producers, critics and educators, as they use their videoworks to speak to deep issues of race, class, gender, war, isolation,prejudice, homophobia, juvenile justice. VV has been a beacon for YAC,spearheading our anti-racism work through thought and action. Through thisproject dozens of our youth and adults have been to trainings, led workshops,and disseminated their work to wider audiences. In this space young people ofcolor come together with allies to talk about the effects of living in amajority white area and position their work around these issues.

Our newest program is

Donor & Volunteer Advisory

This organization's nonprofit status may have been revoked or it may have merged with another organization or ceased operations.

Community Stories

5 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Youth Action Coalition meets youth where they are, and inspires deep creativity and social justice at the same time. It is a unique and valued organization that has been a safe place and a place of great hope for many youth.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a licensed social worker who has focused on community integrative practice and creative arts as a tool with which to educate and empower youth, thier families, and of course the broader community. I feel strongly that Youth Action Coalition (YAC) is a heroic and fierce force in the work that they do, effecting all whom participate on many levels: from the youth who are served, the board members to do serve, and the families that witness thier children grow from thier engagement. I also have been an intern and an employee of YAC over many years (although not currently) and it has additionally provided me with a sense of community, empowerment of my own as an adult- and at the onset as a young adult trying to identify what was important to me- and I will forever credit this experience with YAC as an enormous role in the work I do today, and the pride I feel in being part of something proactive, authentic, and beautiful. The youth I worked with have gone on to do various things in thier lives, however when I have run into them in the community, they always share how valuable the lessons about self, social justice and creativity are to them. It is continually inspiring to see this evidence, and this should be recognized in all aspects of non-profit work, beyond the communities in which YAC works. To note: below it is asked what year of affiliation I have.... I have had ten years in affiliation with YAC but was only able to check one year in the dropdown menue and checked the most recent of my direct work with YAC. Thank you.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The staff at Youth Action Coalition come to our school with creativity, high energy and a sense of loyalty to our students. They help foster passion and confidence for students who , at times, may not be able to see themselves through a more traditional lens. We are so fortunate to have them as part of our community.


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Through the years I have been involved in funding YAC through the Lydia B. Stokes Foundation and have found the organization incredibly consistent in providing wonderful services to their students. They are creative, responsible, effective, forward thinking and very caring. The provide a safe space and a place from which young students can really find their creative and productive way.

Here's to a great organization!

Tom Willits
Lydia B. Stokes Foundation Trustee


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Youth Action Coalition is an incredible asset to our community. Not only have I attended great events they have hosted for the community, the visit that their Video Vanguard youth made to my college classroom, sharing their own videos about their personal social identity stories, was the most powerful class of the entire year! The videos were wonderful and the ability of these youth to verbalize complex issues and share from their own experiences was incredible. My college students learned a great a deal from these young women. Their visit came up in our discussions all year!