Founded in 1996 in San Francisco, Youth Speaks is a leading presenter of Spoken Word performance, education, and youth development programs. Trailblazers of local and national youth poetry slams, festivals, and more, Youth Speaks offers a comprehensive slate of literary arts education programs and provides numerous opportunities for youth to be published and heard. Youth Speaks has worked with hundreds of thousands of youth and has helped create partner programs in 47 cities across the United States.

Meet the Squad


We envision a world in which young people are heard, honored and connected through creative ecosystems of interdependence and care.

Literacy is a need, not a want, and literacy comes in various forms.

Youth Speaks encourages youth to express themselves using their own idioms.

By connecting poetry, spoken word, youth development, and civic engagement, Youth Speaks aims to deconstruct current dominant narratives by creating a more inclusive and active culture. Young people have the tools to take control of their lives through language and Oral poetry helps define the new American Voice.

Having knowledge, practice, and confidence in the written and spoken language is essential to the self-empowerment of an individual. Youth Speaks fills a need for creative approaches to literary arts education and literacy development. 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.

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