connect / 2016
Get Lit Players go on a 'Lit for Literacy' Tour in Los Angeles' first Poetry Bus!
Please describe your project proposal.
Get Lit seeks funds to put the Get Lit Players on our brand new Poetry Bus for a “Lit for Literacy” Tour that will visit underserved middle schools, high schools, and community centers throughout Los Angeles County. The Tour will use the Players’ new book “Get Lit Rising,” which includes personal stories and poems, to inspire teens to get involved and stay in school, cultivate a love of language and learning, and ignite community, connectedness, and social activism amongst the citizens of LA.
Which of the connect metrics will your proposal impact?
- Social & emotional support
- Cultural events
- Public/open streets gatherings
- Residential segregation
- Total number of local social media friends and connections Angelenos have
In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- Central LA
- East LA
- San Gabriel Valley
- San Fernando Valley
- South LA
- South Bay
- Gateway Cities
- Antelope Valley
- County of Los Angeles
- City of Los Angeles
Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to connect?
Beat poet Lenore Kendel once wrote she was “taking poetry out of the classroom and into the streets” and that’s just what she and her Beat contemporaries including Keroac, Ferlinghetti, and Ginsberg did. Their innovative poetry created a new art genre that they “took on the road” from clubs and gatherings to classrooms across San Francisco and the nation.
Similarly, you can HOP ON THE BUS with the Get Lit Players, an award-winning performance troupe made up of teenagers from high schools throughout Los Angeles, who are going on a “Lit for Literacy” Tour to share personal stories as well as classic and response poems from their new book “Get Lit Rising” to inspire youth literacy and social activism. A book alone can change a life. Especially this one, which youth can relate to the true stories of their peers’ journeys navigating crushing circumstances to find hope and personal voice through poetry.
Currently, literacy rates in Los Angeles rank among the lowest in the state, with high school drop out rates exceeding the national average. This creates a sense of hopelessness and separateness in one of the country’s largest counties stretching over 4,751 square miles, with the second largest school district where over 90 languages are spoken and geography ranges from the ocean to inner-city to canyons.
Get Lit’s “Lit for Literacy” Tour creates a connection between these diverse schools and communities through the universal language of story and poetry. Combining the book with performances can lead to extraordinary transformation, setting lost youth on a path they did not even know existed. Through LA2050, the Get Lit Players will perform for over 30,000 teens at 50 Los Angeles middle and high schools, 10 libraries, and 20 community events, modeling engaged learning and performance achievement, and leading workshops from Get Lit’s unique curriculum which was recently approved as a University of California ‘A-G’ college prep elective.
The Get Lit Players will travel on the only poetry bus in the country, with original artwork by Ernesto Yerena, a Boyle Heights-based artist who trained for years as Shepard Fairey’s right-hand man. An online app will make it possible to follow the Tour stops and location of the bus, and a professional documentary crew will accompany the Tour to tell the story through the powerful medium of video. The completed digital film will be submitted to major film festivals and distributed online.
In this crucial time of elections with growing tension around police-community relations, inner-city violence, and inflated rates of type 2 diabetes, educating and awaking the activism of our youth has never been more important. Get Lit’s model has proven effective. Now we have the vehicle and book to reach many more people. By connecting Los Angeles youth from different areas and amplifying their voices to adults and policy makers, we can create a more engaged populace that betters the lives of all Angelinos to come.
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
Over the past 10 years, thousands of testimonials and an external evaluator have confirmed Get Lit’s capacity to transform dismal statistics into a literate, engaged community of youth who have reclaimed their lives by claiming poems.
Get Lit will measure the impacts and success of the Lit for Literacy Tour using all key quantitative data elements – including how many schools implement our curriculum, how many students graduate from our program, and how many students attend performances – as well as qualitative data from student, teacher, and principal surveys that assess changes individually, in the classroom, and in the school culture. We will also collect and compare pre and postEnglish Language Arts test scores in the schools that we work with and evaluate improvements in writing, reading, and memorization; increased life skills as students apply their learning across curriculum and make connections to future careers; and broadened horizons full of personal relevancy, hope, and renewed enthusiasm for learning.
Get Lit’s school curriculum promotes literacy and college readiness; develops critical thinking, public speaking, and performance abilities; creates leaders; and develops vital social skills that are rooted in self-awareness and confidence, personal responsibility, collaboration, and compassion. A successful Tour will achieve all this while increasing exposure to and engagement in media literacy and the transformative power of poetic expression.
How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?
- Advisors/board members
- Technical infrastructure (computers etc.)
- Community outreach
- Network/relationship support