Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history and purpose of Brave New Voices Festival?
Youth Speaks first founded Brave New Voices as the National Youth Poetry Slam in 1998, after the success of the local work in the Bay Area. The first national slam had 4 teams; we now have as many as 50. Brave New Voices is about bringing together young poets from across the globe so that they can create new pathways toward artistic growth, civic engagement, and youth development. BNV takes place in a different city each year. It’s formal name is the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival.

Where does the Brave New Voices Festival take place?
Brave New Voices takes place in a different city each summer. Some of the cities that have hosted Brave New Voices include San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington DC. Check the Brave New Voices website for updates and location of the current years festival.

What is the relationship between Youth Speaks and Brave New Voices?
Brave New Voices is a project of Youth Speaks Inc, and was first created in 1998 as the National Youth Poetry Slam. The Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival (Brave New Voices) now takes place each summer in a different city over 4 to 5 days. 500 youth from 50 cities participate.

Does Youth Speaks do more than just Brave New Voices?
Yes! Although Brave New Voices is a huge program and accounts for about 25% of our total budget, it is only part of what the organization does. It is fair to say, though, that in the 4-5 days of the festival, we highlight most of the work of the organization, from civic engagement, artistic development, youth development and arts education programs to poetry slams, intergenerational programming and organizational development. Check out our Bay Area tab at

Why did Youth Speaks want to make Brave New Voices?
Brave New Voices helps to raise the visibility of youth voices, giving them a national platform on a network that will not censor or stereotype them. It also raises the visibility of the work of Youth Speaks and the youth spoken word movement as a whole. BNV shows a slice of the work we’ve been doing and the movement that we’ve helped grow. Our hope is that this show will allow us to continue to generate the attention and resources we need to sustain the work – locally in the San Francisco Bay Area, and nationally.

How do I register for Brave New Voices?
Individuals cannot register for Brave New Voices, but teams can. Applications go up January annually and registration for invited teams begins mid March. All information can be found at

How do affiliates and chapters benefit from their association with Youth Speaks and Brave New Voices?
In addition to providing tangible resources, offering trainings, and helping to raise revenue, affiliates and chapters are able to raise their visibility and access for resources, ultimately allowing them to provide better resources to more local youth in their own cities.

How do I get involved in Brave New Voices Festival?
There are many ways to get involved. To Volunteer at this years festival please contact Justie Huff at Information on how to apply to join the slam is released annually in January and applications close in March. Go to for all of the information you need about the Brave New Voices festival.

How do teams participate in Brave New Voices?
Information about applying to the current year is updated in January annually. Competing teams are made up of 4-6 youth and 1-2 adults. Each team needs to fill out an application form completely. If accepted, you will receive information on how to proceed with registration and payment.  Teams will be required to pay a registration fee to guarantee their spot in the Festival. These registration fees are partially subsidized by Youth Speaks, and determined by organizational size. SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION FORM DOES NOT GUARANTEE PARTICIPATION IN THE SLAM, you will be invited to register. Teams will be informed of their status at the end of March. Determinations are made for purposes of geographic diversity.  New groups are encouraged to stay tuned to the Brave New Voices website for all information about how to participate in the festival.

My team does not want to compete in Brave New Voices, but would still like to attend.
If your group wants to come to Brave New Voices as part of the festival but NOT compete in the slam, please identify yourself as a non-competing team on the application form. For individual members who are affiliated with an accepted team that want to attend must identify themselves as Entourage. The Entourage fee is $500 per person. Entourage have the same privileges as their team affiliates in the festival. For non team participation such as guests, friends and family please RSVP using our Eventbrite registration for our Free events! Check out the Brave New Voices website for more information.

What are the requirements for eligibility?
We have two main requirements - all of the participants must be between the age of 13-19, and youth must have an open opportunity to make the team through a local slam or similar type program (no hand picked teams, meaning the process must be open to as many young people as possible). What are the fees involved in registration?Fees range from $1,250 - $2,000 and cover 6 youth and 2 adults. Fee is around $500 per person unless subsidized. The Entourage fee is $500 per person. The cost covers access to all events, housing and two meals a day.

Is Brave New Voices open to people outside of the U.S?
If so, how do I compete? Yes, BNV is open to people outside the U.S. Just go through the general application. For any other questions, please contact Shannon Matesky at

What other expenses need to be considered?
Please be sure to consider travel costs for teams and other indivuals you may decide to bring to Brave New Voices. With the Registration fee we cover the cost of housing, two meals a day and access to all events. One meal a day and any other needs must be covered by the team. For other questions pertaining to costs, contact Shannon Matesky at

How does my company partner with Youth Speaks and/or Brave New Voices?
We have great opportunities to partner with us at both and We are always looking for partners for some of our major events, including the Living Word Festival, Brave New Voices, our annual Friendraiser and The Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam. All of the info is online, or give our Executive Director, James Kass, a call at 415.255.9035 ext. 11. For other ideas of how to support Youth Speaks, go to

We also have websites at, &

I’d like to sponsor Brave New Voices. How do I do this?
Youth Speaks is always seeking partners for the Brave New Voices festival. Please visit our website for details, and contact our Executive Director James Kass at 415.255.9035 ext 11 or by email to