Young Chicago Authors (YCA), organizers of the world’s largest youth poetry festival, today was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The Award recognizes exceptional nonprofit organizations who have demonstrated creativity and impact, and invests in their long-term sustainability with sizable one-time grants.
“Our vision has been to strategize a scenario that ensures economic stability for Young Chicago Authors, our education partnerships, weekly programs, and marquee festival,” said YCA Executive DirectorRebecca Hunter. “This award sustains our future through a reserve that ensures the long-term health of the organization.”
YCA is a youth literary arts organization working to cultivate the voices of diverse teen writers through artist-led workshops and student performance opportunities, both inside and outside of schools. The organization serves more than 10,000 young people a year through its year round programming that culminates with the month long poetry festival Louder Than a Bomb (LTAB). As the largest teen poetry slam in the world, the festival has been the subject of documentaries and media attention, and has launched the careers entertainers, opinion leaders and educators.
Since 1991, YCA has had the primary goal of facilitating relationships between young people of different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. The organization strives to provide young artists with the space, mentorship, motivation and resources they require to produce, share, and publish meaningful works of art. YCA positions its young, accomplished students as apprentices in the delivery of YCA programs, supporting them with professional development opportunities. The organization provides teaching, writing, and performing platforms for motivated students to gain footholds as working artists and grassroots educators.
The $625,000 award will be used to establish an operating reserve and to invest in technology upgrades that will give the organization the stability to serve young writers for years to come. The award will also be celebrated at YCA’s upcoming benefit on March 18. YCA will welcome Chuck D and DJ Lord from Public Enemy for an engaging evening of Hip Hop history, music and spoken word.
The MacArthur Award has been presented annually since 2006 to organizations across the country and around the world that demonstrate exceptional creativity and effectiveness. This year’s 14 recipients are drawn exclusively from Chicago’s diverse arts and culture community in order to strengthen the city’s vibrant cultural life and underscore the Foundation’s commitment to its hometown. Each year, MacArthur supports more than 300 arts and culture groups in Chicago, awarding more than $10 million in grants, mostly through general operating support.
“These superbly imaginative organizations exemplify Chicago’s thriving arts and culture community, which is vibrant and economically vital to the region,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “Support for these diverse and leading organizations reflects our enduring commitment to Chicago and to its cultural life that enriches us all.”
According to MacArthur, the Award is not only recognition for past leadership and success but also an investment in the future. For these Awards, the Foundation does not seek or accept nominations. To qualify, organizations must demonstrate exceptional creativity and effectiveness; have reached a critical or strategic point in their development; show strong leadership and stable financial management; have previously received MacArthur support; and engage in work central to one of MacArthur’s core programs.