Sunday, July 02, 2006

Youth Speaks Needs Our Help

*from Tomas Riley, good poet and Myspace buddy

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Youth Speaks Needs Your Help

Dear members of the Youth Speaks community, family, and friends,

It is with great hope that we write you during a critical phase in the life of Youth Speaks.After 10 years of creating spaces for young people to thrive, we need to ask for your help as we enter our 11th. While we've maintained continuous growth in our programs and the number of youth served, we have recently experienced significant financial setbacks. Some funding promises have been broken (due to circumstances beyond our control), and we've incurred unexpected moving costs (our building is being sold). As we are a small - but growing - organization, these costs are tough to absorb. In order to continue our innovative programming in the new school year, we still need to raise at least $100,000 in gifts and pledges by August 1.

If you have ever been inspired by the courage, intelligence, creativity, and passion the youth bring to the microphone, then we ask you to please join with us now at this critical time by making the most generous gift that you can to Youth Speaks.

Founded in 1996, Youth Speaks has led a national Spoken Word performance, education, and youth development movement that is helping to transform the cultural landscape of the Bay Area and the country at large. As an organization, we have been proud to carry much of this growing movement on our back during these early stages. New programs are beginning to flourish nationwide, and here in the Bay, Spoken Word and poetry among youth have become a mainstay. But in order for us to be able to pay the people who do this work everyday, we need you to be a part of the solution.

Here are 4 ways you can help Youth Speaks now:

1) Make a donation or pledge (cash, stock, etc).A pledge form is attached for your convenience, which can be sent to We ask that you please consider a multi-year commitment.

2) Get 3 of your friends to donate or make a pledge as well. Please forward this appeal to all who you think might be interested in being a part of the movement by supporting this organization.

3) Host a fundraising event on our behalf. We'll provide poets and Dj's and other forms of entertainment.

4) Give some time to help raise funds. If you've got the background, or the desire, to lend a hand during this fundraising drive, please let us know.

If 4,000 people each give $25 or 2,000 each give $50, a few give $1,000, $10,000 or more, we will make our goal.

Youth Speaks works with over 40,000 teens per year in the Bay Area alone, and has helped create partner programs in 35 cities across the United States. This year, we published 6 books, gave free long-term Spoken Word residencies to 17 public high schools in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, held almost 500 hours of free after-school workshops, and produced over 50 events, which included the sold-out San Francisco Opera House for the Grand Slam Finals of the 10th annual Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam, and the sold-out Apollo Theater for the Brave New Voices Festival finale in NYC. (As part of that festival, we housed and fed over 400 youth from 40 parts of the country.) We also subsidized over $75,000 worth of tickets for youth throughout the year so they could take part in these events in these extraordinary places.

We are extremely proud of our many accomplishments, and are asking for strong partnership right now from all who have been impacted by our work. Our board and staff have strategically mapped out ways to prepare our organization for the future. Intentionally focussing on much needed capacity building, we hope to never turn away a young person who wants to be involved.

If you would like more information or want to get involved, please feel free to contact us at: James (; 415.902.5637) or Tony ( We'd like to thank you in advance for your time and consideration and look forward to hearing from you. Also, check out the video on the site at to remind yourself of just how powerful the experience can be.

in peace & poetry

James Kass, Founder & Executive Director
Tony Rodriguez, President of the Board

For the entire Youth Speaks Staff & Board
Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Jason Mateo, Chinaka Hodge, Ise Lyfe, Joan Osato, Rafael Casal, Adriel Luis, Elz Cuya, Tomás Riley, Khalil Anthony Peebles, Michelle Lee, Hodari Davis, Aya de Leon, Paul Flores, LaShawn Route-Chatmon, Leighanne Daley Sanchez, Miles Smith, Sara Jane Philips, Lauren Wingate, Leah Joy Turnbull, Josh T. Klipp, Cathy Garza, Vivian Chavez, Dalia Yedidia.

* Checks should be made payable to Youth Speaks, and can be mailed to 2169 Folsom Street, S-100 San Francisco, CA 94110.Credit Card donations can be made directly on our secure website at by following the Donate to Youth Speaks link. Please contact James at 415-902-5637 if you would like to make a stock or other property donation.


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