YourWords STL

A New Decade Full of Expansive Programming & Partnerships!

YourWords STL has a lot to be proud of!

In 2019, YourWords STL experienced the following accomplishments:

  • Co-founder and Program Director Anna Ojascastro Guzon, was selected as an EdHub STL Fellow. The EdHub STL fellowship empowers those who are employing entrepreneurial approaches within an education organization to develop and/or expand transformative education systems and practices, with education equity at the center. Fellows lead a mission critical project, program or systems change for their school/school district, government education agency, community organization or education non-profit while receiving funding, mentorship, insight and training from industry leaders, support of The School of Social System Design at Washington University as well as office space at CIC at 4220 Duncan over the course of 9 months. Congratulations, Anna!
  • We began housing two AmeriCorp VISTAs to help build our capacity through volunteer coordinating and fundraising management. Join us in welcoming Cydney Johnson & Grace Cunningham!
  • We received funding from the Regional Arts Commission, the SAIGH Foundation and EdHub STL. We are profoundly thankful to these sponsors.
  • We officially outgrew Midwest Artist Project Services – MAPS, who generously offered us their time, wisdom, & knowledge. They steered us in the right direction since we were a fledgling organization. Special thank you to Brigid Flynn and Liz Deichmann!
  • Anna Ojascastro Guzon was a special guest on the Static Podcast hosted by St. Louis favorite, Staci Static. Thanks for featuring YourWords STL, Staci!
  • We began a partnership with Youth Be Heard, a nationwide platform for youth from different backgrounds to see and inspire one another and the world. They do this through elevating youth thought, experience, and creativity on their website.

A new decade full of expansive programming & partnerships!

We are thrilled for the new and improved collaborative projects & upcoming partnerships that will take place in the new year. We will partner with Dream Builders 4 Equity (DB4E) for their 3rd annual book signing & first ever poetry slam event “Dreams Made Real”. The young people who participated in the DB4E Summer Academy 2019 wrote & published the book “Dreams Made Real”. The book includes their experiences in the program, how they benefited from participating, how it will impact their future, and how they will continue to make a difference in the community. Stay tuned for more details on the upcoming event. 

We will continue tutoring and workshops for four and a half hours per week at Marygrove Children’s Home, as well as 60-minute weekly workshops at Lift for Life Gym. This past fall, the highly skilled teaching artist, poet, painter, and licensed therapist John Blair joined our team. He led the young men of The Drury House at Marygrove to write poetry using prompts that included the music of Miles Davis and the paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat. He will continue to work with the young men during the new year. Join us in welcoming John!

Teaching artist Aysia BerLyn continued to work with the young women at The Sequoia House at Marygrove this past fall. We are fortunate to have Ellen Barnidge and her students of St. Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice qualitatively analyze the writing produced during these workshops, in order to help us assess the efficacy of our programs.

We will lead two “Crossing Delmar,” collaborative projects during the 2020 Winter/Spring Semester. In January, students from Moline Elementary & New City School will spend five days together writing, discussing, and recording conversations on race, identity, and the Delmar Divide. At their culminating event at Innovation Hall, they will present their final projects in the form of podcast episodes. In March and April, the fourth-graders at Barbara C. Jordan Elementary and The College School will participate in workshops during which they will write, discuss, and record poetry that addresses identity and culture. They will then have the opportunity to work together to create podcast episodes at Innovation Hall and visit each other’s schools. 

We have an exciting year ahead of us and we need your help! #GiveYourWords this #GivingTuesday to support our 2020 programming that empowers our local youth. As always, donations are tax-deductible.

Anna Guzon

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