BNV Network Initiative

Overview of the BNV Network Initiative - Powered by Youth Speaks

The Brave New Voices Network Initiative ("BNVI") is a seven-year initiative, dedicated to building a sustainable field of nonprofit organizations and programs throughout the United States that intersect arts education, and youth development practices with a deep focus on long-term civic engagement and public presentation. The initiative provides general operating support, training and other types of technical assistance, peer learning exchanges, digital support and visibility to programs and organizations nationwide. In addition to building the capacity of the field broadly through this suite of resources, the Initiative has been designed to invest more deeply in organizations selected for the Leadership Cohort.

BNV Network Membership

Membership in the BNV Network is still free! To participate as a member, each organization/program must meet two criteria:

  • Have a mission and programs that are largely centered on the creation of safe spaces to provide youth between the ages of 13-24 with opportunities for writing and performance that elevate youth voice and the next generation of change-makers.
  • Be structured as an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization or as a fiscally-sponsored project of a 501(c)(3). Spoken word and performance programs for youth that are housed within a larger, multi-purpose organizations are eligible if their activities comprise a significant portion of the organization’s total activities, based on the current year budget.

Mission-aligned organizations and programs that would like to participate in the BNV Network Initiative must be registered users on this site to develop a profile and to access information on grants, webinars, and other resources.


For questions about joining as a member of the BNV Network, please email Cassie Newman at

Future Corps

We are launching a two-year Future Corps Fellowship program that aims to support the growth of emerging arts professionals through experiential learning opportunities. Beginning in January 2016, select Leadership Cohort organizations will benefit from the full-time staff support of a Future Corps Fellow. Open only to alumni of the the BNV Festival, this Fellowship is designed to complement and expand upon our seasonal BNV Festival Future Corps program.
The application period has closed.
Visit our Future Corps page for more information on the Fellowship program.

More Information about BNV Network Initiative Grants

Beginning in the Fall of 2014, a series of competitive grant opportunities were launched including general operating support and technical assistance for the members of the Leadership Cohort, as well as grants for specific programmatic activities.

Programmatic grants will be offered each year of the Initiative to help generate collective momentum and dialogue in the Network around various topics, including immigration, violence, educational reform, climate change, gender and sexual identity, public health issues, and the school-to-prison pipeline. All Network members will be encouraged to apply for programmatic grants.

BNV Network Leadership Cohort

As a core component of the BNV Network Initiative, Youth Speaks launched our inaugural Leadership Cohort in January 2015. Over a three-year period, select organizations from around the country will receive targeted investments in their organizational development and sustainability, including cash grants ranging between $25,000 and $100,000 annually, ongoing capacity-building training, online and in-person, as well as Future Corps staffing support in years two and three of this initiative.

Eligibility to Apply to Join the Leadership Cohort

This first cycle of funding for the Leadership Cohort will conclude at the end of 2017. Organizations/programs interested in participating in the Leadership Cohort in the future must satisfy the following requirements, in addition to meeting the membership criteria noted above:

  • Be located and operating in the United States.
  • Have at least one paid or volunteer staff operating on a half-time basis. This criterion may be met by multiple individuals dedicating approximately twenty (20) hours collectively to the organization on a weekly basis.
  • Be either currently governed by a board of directors or advisory board, or commit to forming a governing body over the next three years.
  • Have the ability to participate in an annual 2-3 day convening and other training opportunities.
Brave New Voices

Brave New Voices