Through words, all youth claim the power and hope to determine their future.
Through the literary and performing arts, Youth Speaks Nashville offers creative solutions for youth to build literacy and presentation skills, reconnect to their education and to their lives, and act as leaders in the improvement of their communities. We are absolutely committed to providing youth, especially in underserved communities, with as many opportunities as possible to develop and publicly present their voices both live and in print, video, audio, and digital media.
Youth Speaks Nashville and their affiliates around the country are the leading nonprofit presenters of Spoken Word performance, education, and youth development programs.
At Youth Speaks, the voices of youth matter.
Committed to a critical, youth-centered pedagogy, Youth Speak places students in control over their intellectual and artistic development. We are driven by the belief that literacy is a need, not a want, and that literacy comes in various forms.
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 in general; 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, and leadership skills.
As we move more deeply into the 21st Century, oral poetry is helping to define the American Voice. By making the connection between poetry, spoken word, and classroom settings, Youth Speaks delivers a more inclusive, and active, learning experience. 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. The idea of “talent” or being “talented” is often viewed as a mysterious force bestowed on a given individual, rather than the result of hard work, practice, and commitment.
We Believe in Voice
We believe it is critical that young people have opportunities to find, develop, publicly present, and intentionally apply their voices. Silence is a powerful thing when chosen, but incredibly detrimental when required.
We Believe in Continuum
We are committed to providing opportunities for youth to engage with the tradition of oral literacy and oral poetics so as to immortalize the voices of today’s young writers.
We Believe in Community
Youth Speaks reflects diversity and engenders a community of young artists who reach across demographic boundaries toward self-exploration and growth, providing a platform where conflicts are resolved on the page or the stage, rather than on the street.
We Believe in Contemporary Culture
Youth Speaks is committed to the written and spoken word, innovating our program so that it remains accessible and attractive to the population we serve, and reflects their stories without leaving out the stories that have come before.
We Believe in Individual and Social Transformation
Youth Speaks intends to democratize a civic population of youth by giving them a platform to speak.
We Believe in Excellence
We challenge young people to find their own voices, to work hard to apply them, and to do so responsibly. We ask youth to not be afraid of their own potential; we promise them we won’t.