At Youth Speaks, the voices of young people matter.
Committed to a critical, youth-centered pedagogy, Youth Speaks places young people in control of their intellectual and artistic development. We are urgently driven by the belief that literacy is a need, not a want, and that literacy comes in various forms.
As we move more deeply into the 21st Century, oral poetry is helping to define the new American Voice. By making the connection between poetry, spoken word, youth development and civic engagement, Youth Speaks aims to deconstruct dominant narratives in hopes of achieving a more inclusive, and active, culture. Believing that young people have the tools to take control of their lives through language, Youth Speaks encourages youth to express themselves using their own vernacular.
Youth Speaks believes that having knowledge, practice, and confidence in the written and spoken language is essential to the self-empowerment of an individual. We fill a need for creative approaches to literary arts education and literacy development; we believe it is crucial to provide spaces where youth can undergo a process of personal growth and transformation in a program that enriches their educational, professional, artistic and leadership skills.
Mission & Vision
Youth Speaks creates 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.
Ultimately, we hope 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.
Founded in 1996 in San Francisco, Youth Speaks is the leading nonprofit presenter of Spoken Word performance, education, and youth development programs in the country. Presenters of local and national youth poetry slams, festivals, reading series, and more, Youth Speaks also offers a comprehensive slate of literary arts education programs during the school day, in the after-school hours, on weekends and evenings, while providing numerous opportunities for youth to be published and heard. All told, Youth Speaks works with 45,000 teens per year in the Bay Area alone, and has helped create partner programs in 47 cities across the United States.