YOUTH SPEAKS INC

Because the next generation speaks for itself

aka Brave New Voices, Brave New Voices Network, Life is Living, (formerly The Living Word Project)   |   San Francisco, CA   |  www.youthspeaks.org

Mission

Through the intersection of arts education and youth development practices, civic engagement strategies, and high quality artistic presentation, Youth Speaks creates safe spaces that challenge young people to find, develop, publicly present, and apply their voices as creators of societal change.

Ruling year info

2001

Executive Director

Cristy Johnston Limon

Main address

1446 Market Street

San Francisco, CA 94102 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

91-2134499

NTEE code info

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

Citizenship Programs, Youth Development (O54)

Intergroup/Race Relations (R30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Teenagers are on the frontlines, often literally, of the world's cultural and political battles. Rarely given opportunities to voice their unique perspectives, young people often disengage. While it is imperative that youth are literate and actively engaged in today's multimedia and communications world--and that the power of their voices is used to positively affect the educational, artistic, cultural, and political worlds--few pathways are opened up for them to be true cultural participants.

Research and our own experience shows that marginalized voices – be they undocumented, geographically and/or economically isolated, ethnically alienated, or otherwise silenced – have limited access to artistic pathways in which they can be nurtured and heard. Nationwide, only 10% of grant dollars made in support of the arts explicitly benefit communities of color. 50% of all arts funding goes to just 2% of arts organizations, the majority of which serve better-educated and wealthier people.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Youth Development/Leadership

Founded in 1996, 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 and the after-school hours, and conducts numerous publications and youth development programs. All told, Youth Speaks works with 45,000 teens per year in the Bay Area alone, and has created partner programs in 36 cities across the United States.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents

High school residencies, school visits and outreach; after-school writing workshops; performance events; SPOKES youth advisory board; and First Sound Institute for teachers and other educators

Population(s) Served
Adolescents

A field-building program designed to invest in youth development and arts education organizations, with a focus in spoken word poetry, across the country, through training, grants and peer learning.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Ethnic and racial groups

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

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 provides direct services to thousands of youth in the Bay Area each year, invests in developing a network of educators and nonprofit organizations, hosts convenings and live programs, presents a new generation of artistic voices in theater and spoken word, develops national media campaigns, and plays an advocacy role to elevate the voices and stories of young people.

In response to a global youth spoken word movement and rapidly growing field, Youth Speaks founded the Brave New Voices (BNV) Festival and Network of 125+ grassroots groups around the world that share creative, youth development practices. This Network is a collaborative model that believes in the wisdom of local communities to best serve their young people and provides an infrastructure to scale and share best practices. With a partner in almost every state, the BNV Network serves 250,000+ youth each year, about 55% identify as female and half identify as African American. Recently, Youth Speaks invested over $3 million in organizations across the country to develop their capacities.

Youth Speaks is a youth-centered organization. Since inception, we have been committed to providing free and safe arts-based spaces in which young people can thrive. Over the last twenty years, we've developed a successful pedagogy and series of practices that are translatable in multiple communities with multiple populations of young people. While focusing on the transformation of individual young people who participate in our programs designed to challenge them to find, develop, publicly present, and apply their voices as creators of change, we've also invested in the building of a field of programs with similar and shared practices and values across the United States.

A report by the Wallace Foundations finds, “engagement in the arts not only allows young people to express themselves...but can also build skills and confidence; foster teamwork and persistence; and inspire the formation of social bonds, empathy for others and a capacity for delight that can last a lifetime." In that same paper, Youth Speaks is named one of eight exemplary arts education groups in the U.S.

Youth Speaks has helped lead a grassroots movement that is quickly becoming mainstreamed. Poetry and spoken word as art forms have become democratized in classrooms, on stages, and in community settings all across the country. From commencement speeches to cultural movement campaigns, spoken word has become a tool in which a generation can communicate urgent ideas with non-commercial intent.

Youth Speaks has a history of organizing multiple statewide and national projects – including major partnerships with Robert Redford around global warming, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting around the high school drop out crisis, The Bigger Picture around the Type 2 diabetes epidemic, and the California Endowment around mass incarceration and the punishment society. Youth Speaks also conceived of and co-produced the HBO series Brave New Voices, and curated the poets for the first White House Poetry Jam under President Obama in May 2009. Recently recognized the Ford Foundation as one of the ten organizations crucial for arts in the 21st Century, Youth Speaks is committed to building the next generation of leaders, engaged citizens, artists, and audience members.

While much of the arts fields grapples with developing young audiences and connecting their performance to changing cultural and demographic landscapes, Youth Speaks finds that spoken word is an art form to which young people flock. At our recent sold out show, "Bringing the Noise for Dr. Martin Luther King," over 50% of the ticket buying audience were young people. We are quite literally creating a new generation of arts patrons. Youth Speaks has always excelled at bringing together diverse populations from geographically and economically diverse areas into shared spaces in which they can define a common good.

Financials

YOUTH SPEAKS INC
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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YOUTH SPEAKS INC

Board of directors
as of 10/15/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Anthony Francis

Google

Term: 2018 - 2021

Jen Lou

Consultant

Laura Brief

Consultant

Tony Francis

Google

Dror Bar-Ziv

Valiant Client Partners

Olivia Morgan

OM Strategies

Eric Sonsino

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 02/18/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data