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Who We Are
Youth Communication equips and empowers educators and youth workers with real teen-written stories and a literacy-rich training model to engage struggling youth and build their social and emotional learning skills. [more]
Our Magazines
YCteen (teen magazine)
(foster teen magazine)
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Who We Are: Awards & Impact
Awards & Impact
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Youth Communication is the nation’s premier source for high-quality, teen-written stories on serious topics. Why? Here’s a summary.

  • Our books and magazines win prestigious educational publishing awards,
    triumphing over entries from Scholastic, The New York Times, and The
    Wall Street Journal.
  • Our curricula are praised for engaging at-risk teens and teaching them
    the skills they need to succeed in school and contribute to their communities.
  • Our stories have wide appeal. The Huffington Post, The New York Times Learning Network, and major textbook publishers, such as W.W. Norton
    & Company, reprint and share them with their own readers.
  • Our staff members have been recognized for creativity and effectiveness, including a MacArthur Fellowship for Executive Director Keith Hefner.
    One indication of their impact: our alumni have published over 70 books, including two New York Times best-sellers. Alumna Edwidge Danticat won
    a MacArthur Fellowship.


Work Readiness: Our Real Jobs curriculum was piloted with 1,500 young people in NYC’s 2009 Summer Youth Employment Program. The goal: improve their work readiness. In an independent evaluation:

  • 80% of the participants reported that as a result of Real Jobs they know how they should (and should not) act on the job.
  • 73% reported that Real Jobs helped strengthened their understanding of the link between education and career success.
  • 75% of the participants voluntarily read additional stories, even though they reported doing little or no other summer reading.
Juvenile Justice: In 2011-12, The NYC Department of Probation used our Real Stories, Real Teens curriculum with 100 teen probationers. In a focus group, seven probation officers described using the intervention. Comments included:

  • “The only book these kids read is Facebook. I really didn’t believe I could get 8 kids to read [a real book]. But I tried Real Stories and learned that it would work. And suddenly, I saw they were really reading!”
  • “They want to read these stories. Reading and talking gives them a chance to show what they know.”
  • “If it’s the day we’re reading the stories, they perk right up; they’re interactive; they get involved in the reading; they help each other out; they learn about different issues—that’s the reward for them.”
Motivation and academic skills: In 30 years of surveys, students and teachers consistently report that our stories help them address behavioral issues and strengthen academic skills. In recent surveys, 48% of teacher subscribers report assigningreading based on Youth Communication stories and 46% of teens readers report writing something as a result of reading one of our stories:

  • 75% of teens reported that reading the stories helped them wrestle with moral dilemmas.
  • More than 50% of readers reported that the stories make them feel less alone and helped them understand people from backgrounds different from their own.
  • Over one-third of teens reported that they felt more optimistic about their future and more confident after reading our stories.
Alumni impact: We are tracking more than 1,000 alumni. They have excelled in education, work, and community involvement, and many report that their time at Youth Communication played a major role in improving their skills and motivating them to succeed. For example, alumni have published over 70 books, including several books for young adults, almost all of which explore socially significant issues. VOYA, the trade magazine for young adult librarians, featured Youth Communication alumni writers.


Youth Communication has won scores of prestigious awards for its curricula, journalism, and writing program from the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP), the federal government (NEA/NEH), journalism organizations (Independent Press Association/Ippies and the Casey Journalism Center), and more. Here’s a sampling.

Best Curriculum: Life Skills and Character Education
Real Men (AEP)
Real Stories, Real Teens (AEP)
Do You Have What It Takes? (AEP)

Best Periodical
Winner, Distinguished Achievement Award, Periodical of the Year, YCteen, (AEP)
Winner, Distinguished Achievement Award, Best-One-Theme Issue: Represent, Summer 2010 issue on Sex and Pregnancy (AEP)
Winner, Distinguished Achievement Award, Best Series: YCteen for its stories on the impact of war on teens (AEP)
Finalist, Distinguished Achievement Award, Best One-Theme Issue: Represent: “Off the Hook: Overcoming Addiction” (AEP)

Best Journalism
Youth Media, Honorable Mention, “My Headscarf Cover-Up” by Anonymous (Casey Medal)
First Prize, Best Editorial/Commentary, “Scam U.” by Marco Salazar (Ippies)
First Prize, Immigration and Social Justice category, “University of Kitchen?” by Orubba Almansouri (Ippies)
Honorable Mention, Education category, “Too Many Schools” by Akeema Lottman (Ippies)
Winner, “I’m Not Crazy, I Have a Mental Illness” by Virgen Nunez (Mental Health America)
Best Student Investigative Piece: “On the Razor's Edge” by Anonymous (Mental Health America)
Winner, “Living with Ghosts” by Pauline Gordon (Mental Health America)
National magazines under 1 million: “Rape in the Family: Two Sisters Break their Silence” (Mental Health America)

President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities
Youth Communication won the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award in 2000, which is given each year by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities to ten of the best youth arts and humanities programs in the country.

Haiti on My Mind was named one of the 40 best books for teens in 2010 by the Pennsylvania School Library Association.

MacArthur Fellowships & Staff Awards
Executive Director Keith Hefner won a MacArthur Fellowship in 1989 for his work founding and directing Youth Communication. He also won the Luther P. Jackson Award for Excellence in Journalism Education from the New York Association of Black Journalists.

Youth Communication alumna Edwidge Danticat won a MacArthur Fellowship in 2010 for her novels and nonfiction writing. (Edwidge’s first novel, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Breath, Eyes, Memory, grew out of a story she published for Youth Communication as a teenager.) She has also twice been a finalist for the National Book Award.

Five Youth Communication staff members were awarded Revson Fellowships on the Future of New York City at Columbia University while working here.

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