connect / 2015

LA Youth Poet Ambassadors

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Urban Word Los Angeles

The Youth Poet Ambassadors program honors 15 teens each year, and names the LA Youth Poet Laureate. These youth are not only selected by the strength of their creative voices, but most importantly because of their histories of volunteerism and civic/community engagement. Each year, we activate around (3) issues, and this year we've identified: 1) voter awareness/participation, 2) access to creative industries & workforce development, and 3) college access, as our Ambassador Initiatives.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • City of Los Angeles
  • LAUSD

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Expand a pilot or a program
  • Town Hall Meetings, Volunteerism, Voter Drives, and Performances

How will your proposal improve the following “Connect” metrics?

  • Rates of volunteerism
  • Voting rates by race
  • Attendance at cultural events
  • Participation in neighborhood councils
  • Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally (Dream Metric)
  • Attendance at public/open streets gatherings (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to connect.

Mission: The Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate & Ambassadors program aims to identify youth writers and leaders who are committed to civic and community engagement, poetry and performance, and diversity and human dignity across Los Angeles.

Launched in 2014, with only in-kind support from our various partners, the Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate program brought forth and celebrated the top teen poets in Los Angeles, and provided various platforms for their voice and leadership. Program materials were promoted across the LA Unified School District, and students were encouraged to submit five poems and a CV. These materials were created to not only identify the best poets and writers, but also young leaders. A group of esteemed judges, including CA Poet Laureate, and numerous other writers from across Los Angeles, selected 12 finalists, as well as the first ever LA Youth Poet Laureate. Along with receiving a proclamation from the City of Los Angeles at a live poetry event held at the Downtown Public Library (where all the finalists performed), the winner received a book deal from Penmanship Books. This year we hope to expand the program by offering curricula resources that promote the values of our program through poetry. To this end your support will help us expand the program and work of the Youth Poet Ambassasdors to:

 Hold (4) Town Hall Meetings during the year, open to the public, that engage issues of voter participation, job opportunities, and college access.  Engage Ambassadors for (4-6) voter drives during the year, and 4 additional volunteer engagements.  Plan and produce (4) Word/Works trips where young writers access professional spaces where writers are valued, like PR/marketing firms, recording studios, and city government.  Provide free creative writing workshops and curricula that promotes civic engagement, youth leadership and voter participation.  Create a series of [4] events leading up to the final event where the LA Youth Poet Laureate will be chosen and a Proclamation issued.  Create a public library tour for the youth poets involved. In summary, this program aims to expand the role of poetry for young people to include writing that inspires a sense of civic and community participation, as well as speak to the issues that affect them most.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

Because this program is based in presenting/producing events and Town Halls aimed at shifting the culture, as well as Word/Works trips, workshops and college access activities - we evaluate our work by not only reaching our benchmarks, but also by serving as many youth as possible with these opportunities.

Also, as we shift the culture and bring attention to these issues, we are allowed great access to spaces of power and governance. Evaluating our success enlists a multi-faceted approach to document all of this work.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Education/training
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support