Urban Word champions, centers, elevates young marginalized voices as leaders at the intersection of the literary arts and civic engagement.  

Through the  transformative power of the written and spoken word, Urban Word provides young, creative voices, often those that are marginalized, the tools, training, and platforms to rewrite the narratives that shape their lives and their communities.

As one of the oldest and most comprehensive youth literary arts organizations in the United States, Urban Word and its national community of poets, activists, and educators, has built and continues to lead the youth spoken word movement.

We believe that free self-expression — matured in an enhanced critical literacy environment — improves self-confidence and strengthens educational achievement for NYC’s inner city youth. We promote active literacy, critical thought, and positive social dialogue across boundaries of age, race, class, gender, culture, and sexuality. We believe art is a medium for self-definition and self-celebration. Many of our workshops are designed to enhance critical thinking skills, leadership, and to ignite a personal commitment to growth and learning which leads to heightened in-school performance, and greater interest in pursuing higher education.

Headquartered in New York City, Urban Word annually serves more than 25,000 NYC youth between the ages of 13 and 19 through its local and school-based programming efforts, and thousands of youth through its national programs including the National Youth Poet Laureate Program, its signature model for youth poetry and civic engagement replicated in communities across the country.