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NEWS & EVENTS
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Youth Communication Executive Director Keith Hefner at PASE
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Youth Communication honored for coverage of child welfare and juvenile justice issues

Youth Communication honored for coverage of child welfare and juvenile justice issues Two Youth Communication publications are finalists in the 2014 Media for a Just Society Awards. ”Nowhere to Go: Our Stories of Homelessness,” the Spring 2013 issue of Represent, and ”Will My Brother Be the Next Shooter?,” from the March/April 2013 issue of YCteen, were both honored in the Youth Media category.

The awards, sponsored by the National Council on Crime & Delinquency, honor media outlets whose work furthers the public’s understanding of criminal justice, juvenile justice, child welfare, and adult protection issues.
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Listen v. Lock-Up presents true stories about the dangers of stereotyping teens from Youth Communication's teen writers and The Central Park Five

<i>Listen v. Lock-Up </i> presents true stories about the dangers of stereotyping teens from Youth Communication's teen writers and <i>The Central Park Five</i> On Wednesday, December 4, 2013, Youth Communication, the award-winning nonprofit publisher of stories written by and for at-risk youth, presented Listen v. Lock-Up: Unheard Stories from Teens in Trouble at Morgan Stanley in New York City.

The powerful multimedia fundraising event featured dramatic performances of stories from teens in their writing program, interwoven with clips from the Ken and Sarah Burns film The Central Park Five, which examines the Central Park jogger case in which five innocent Harlem teens were wrongly convicted.

“The film’s mission is the same as Youth Communication’s – to provide an opportunity to hear directly from teens whose voices aren’t heard in the mainstream media,” says Sarah Burns, who participated in the event. “There’s a wall of coverage that tells us to be afraid and to think a certain way about these young people. Youth Communication humanizes them and provides a forum for them to write about their lives and tell their side of the story.”

After the performance Youth Communication Executive Director Keith Hefner led a panel discussion about the city’s justice system, the consequences of being unheard, and possible solutions to better support teens in trouble. “I wrote for Youth Communication during a time that was dark for me,” said panelist Shawn Welcome who went from high school dropout to high school principal. “It was a place where I could write from the depths of my soul and lay it out there without fear that I’d be judged. The writing helped me find my way.”

Raymond Santana, one of the Central Park Five, also joined the panel discussion. In 1991, Raymond was sent to the Spofford Juvenile Detention Center, where he participated in a writing workshop run by Youth Communication. Raymond published a poem protesting his incarceration and proclaiming his innocence in our newsletter Spofford Voices.

Marlo, another panelist, and a current teen writer at Youth Communication, was arrested three times and served four months at Rikers Island. Unfortunately, his trajectory is not unique. On any given day in 2012, roughly 1,000 New York City teens were behind bars. How did they get there? How can we help them do better? “Writing at Youth Communication is a therapeutic process. Before, I didn’t know how to talk about my traumatic experiences. Being able to work with an editor and write about my life made it easier to accept what had happened to me. With acceptance comes motivation to succeed. Sharing my story will help other teens who are struggling with the same obstacles, ” said Marlo. He is now in college studying to be an accountant.

“It’s almost impossible to convey how valuable the Youth Communication stories are for engaging hard-to-reach students,” said attendee Carl Meltzer, a high school teacher at an alternative school. “I wanted to jump out of my seat and tell everyone in the audience how these stories resonate with kids, and inspire them to want to write their own stories, especially the ones who have struggled.” He uses the stories and essay contests as the basis for writing assignments.

Neil Barsky, a journalist and filmmaker (Koch), who has been a board member for 15 years, summed up the evening. “When you’re with an organization over time, it’s easier to measure the results. I’m able to see young writers enter the program and then see the effect it’s had on their lives 10 years later. I’m a journalist by training and I believe in the power of the word. I also believe in giving at-risk kids these skills and a voice to present their point of view. Youth Communication successfully does both. That’s why I continue to support them.”

Youth Communication was founded in 1980 by MacArthur “genius” grantee Keith Hefner. Its mission is to help marginalized youth strengthen the social, emotional, and literacy skills they need to succeed in school, work, and life. The organization publishes two magazines, YCteen and Represent. YCteen recruits high school students from all five boroughs, as well as organizations that work with youth in the criminal justice system. The magazine is distributed to 400 high schools city-wide.
Represent magazine was founded in 1993 and provides a voice for youth in foster care. Their stories give inspiration and information to peers and offer staff a window into teens' struggles.
Click here for photos from the event
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Youth Communication anthology honored by librarians

Youth Communication anthology honored by librarians Rage, Youth Communication's book to help teens cope with anger, was selected for Voice of Youth Advocate's (VOYA) Nonfiction Honor List.

The Honor List is comprised of books chosen annually by a committee of librarians and teachers, with significant input from middle school students. VOYA Magazine is the leading library journal dedicated to the needs of young adult librarians, the advocacy of young adults, and the promotion of young adult literature and reading.

The teen authors in Rage are honest about their struggles with anger and describe how their abusive pasts affected their emotions. They share realistic advice and anger management strategies that they've used to get their anger under control. Educators use the book to help the young people they work with recognize their own strong emotions and learn effective coping skills.

Rage is one of three books in the Real Teen Voices series by Free Spirit, a publisher specializing in self-help books for youth. Free Spirit is also the publisher of Youth Communication's The Struggle to Be Strong and The Courage to Be Yourself. Both collections are accompanied by a Leader's Guide to help adults who work with youth address the themes of resilience and conflict resolution.
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Represent’s Gangs issue honored by major educational and policy organizations

<i>Represent</i>’s Gangs issue honored by major educational and policy organizations ”Gang Life: The Grime Beneath the Glamour,” the Winter 2012 issue of Represent, is a finalist in the 2013 Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) awards in the One-Theme Issue category. The AEP is the national, nonprofit professional organization for educational publishers. Each year, their awards recognize excellence and innovation in learning resources.

Represent’s Gangs issue is also a finalist in the 2013 Media for a Just Society Awards in the magazine category. The awards, sponsored by the National Council on Crime & Delinquency, honor media outlets whose work furthers the public’s understanding of criminal justice, juvenile justice, child welfare, and adult protection issues. Represent is nominated in the same category as The New Yorker and Mother Jones.

The Gangs issue of Represent features unflinchingly honest first-hand accounts from youth about the realities of gang life, explores the reasons why they join gangs in the first place, and offers advice on how they can leave the life for good.
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Two Youth Communication writers tackle big issues, win journalism awards

Two Youth Communication writers tackle big issues, win journalism awards Two teens in Youth Communication’s writing program won at the 2013 Ippies, an annual competition sponsored by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism for the best of New York City’s ethnic and community press. Marlo Scott’s story, ”From Inmate to College Student”, which was originally published in Represent magazine, won first place for Best Editorial/Commentary. It describes how he transformed himself from troubled teen to thriving college student. YCteen magazine writer Anthony Turner’s story won third place for Best Editorial/Commentary with ”What’s Wrong With Reading?”. In the piece, he challenged his peers to read more and not view reading books as “acting white.”
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Youth Communication benefit with Marcus Samuelsson and Veronica Chambers a success

Youth Communication benefit with Marcus Samuelsson and Veronica Chambers a success On December 4th, 2012, Youth Communication held a benefit reading of celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson's best selling memoir Yes, Chef, written in collaboration with Youth Communication alumna Veronica Chambers. The evening's program was moderated by Mimi Sheraton, former New York Times food critic.

"Veronica is only the second Youth Communication alumni writer to get a book on The New York Times best seller list, so I was thrilled when that happened," said Keith Hefner, Executive Director of Youth Communication. "But I was even more excited to hear Marcus and Veronica describe the back-and-forth writing process that produced this fascinating and beautifully written book."

More than 70 people attended the sold-out event at Red Rooster, which was sponsored by Loews Corp, New York Life, Random House, and The Jenesis Group, a private family foundation. The event raised more than $50,000, which will help transform the lives of at-risk youth through intensive writing instruction and mentorship.
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YCteen story wins Honorable Mention in the 2012 Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism

<i>YCteen</i> story wins Honorable Mention in the 2012 Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism “My Headscarf Cover-Up”, a story published in YCteen, won Honorable Mention in the Youth Media category in the 2012 Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism. The story, published anonymously, describes how the writer secretly disobeys her father’s orders to wear a hijab, despite potentially drastic consequences. The medals, sponsored by the Journalism Center on Children and Families, honor distinguished coverage of disadvantaged children, youth, and families.
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AEP names two Youth Communication publications as finalists in 2012 Distinguished Achievement Awards

AEP names two Youth Communication publications as finalists in 2012 Distinguished Achievement Awards Two of Youth Communication's publications are finalists in the 2012 Distinguished Achievement Awards, a prestigious competition sponsored by the Association of Education Publishers (AEP).

The Youth Communication curriculum, Managing Transitions for Teens, is a finalist in the category of "Best Supplemental Resource: Life Skills and Character Education."

Represent's issue on substance abuse "Off the Hook: Overcoming Addiction" is a finalist in the category of "Periodicals: Best One-Theme Issue (PreK-12)"

Youth Communication's teen writers compete directly with adult publications in this competition, the highest standard for quality, professional educational resources. The AEP is comprised of the major educational publishers in the nation, including Scholastic, National Geographic, Highlights and Weekly Reader.
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YCteen wins "Best Editorial/Commentary” at 2012 Ippies

<i>YCteen </i>wins Youth Communication writer Marco Salazar's story "Scam U” which criticized his school for allowing trade school representatives to pitch to students during classroom time, won first prize for "Best Editorial/Commentary" in the 2012 Ippies, a competition sponsored by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism for the best of the New York City independent press.
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Youth Communication honors alumna Rachel Swarns, author of American Tapestry

Youth Communication honors alumna Rachel Swarns, author of <i>American Tapestry</i> On June 20, 2012, Youth Communication celebrated alumna Rachel L. Swarns and American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama (HarperCollins Publishers). We're thankful to our supporters, especially board member Neil Barsky and Joan Davidson for hosting the event, and to Rachel, who described how working as a teen writer at Youth Communication served as a foundation for her journalism career.

Rachel L. Swarns joined the teen writing staff of Youth Communication in
1984 when she was a high school student. She served as managing editor of Youth Communication’s YCteen magazine, where she published more than a dozen stories. After high school, she attended Howard University where she wrote forThe Hilltop. She worked for the St. Petersburg Times and the Miami Herald after college.

Rachel has been a reporter for The New York Times since 1995. She has reported on immigration, the presidential campaigns of 2004 and 2008, and First Lady Michelle Obama and her role in the Obama White House. She has also worked overseas for The New York Times, reporting from Russia, Cuba, and southern Africa, where she served as the Johannesburg bureau chief.

We’re proud to count Rachel as one of hundreds of teens who received training in our writing program over the past 30 years, and who go on to make their marks as adults.
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CSA News publishes article on Youth Communication's high-interest resources for educators

<i>CSA News </i>publishes article on Youth Communication's high-interest resources for educators The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) publishes an article on Youth Communication's high-interest resources for educators.
Read the article [pdf]
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