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Young Chicago Authors

Young Chicago Authors transforms the lives of young people by cultivating their voices through writing, publication, and performance education.

Galvanize civically-engaged and culturally-literate citizens

YCA is dedicated to developing spaces where young people are invited to tell their stories, actively contributing to an affirmative youth culture. YCA makes it possible for students and their communities, which might otherwise be separated by differences in race, culture, and zip code, to create a shared cultural understanding through the telling of stories.

Deliver tools for young people to craft and share stories.

YCA leads occasions of cultural learning, often in partnership with schools and community groups, for young people to study writing and literary display. Through YCA’s workshops, mentorship opportunities, and public performance platforms, students find and cultivate their authentic voices.

Invigorate educational spaces

The YCA pedagogy aims to put young people at the center of their learning experience as a way to engage them in their own education. YCA empowers students, some of whom have been disenfranchised by the educational system, to pursue their academic ambitions.

Create pathways for emerging artists

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.

Established in 1991

25 year history of providing programming and opportunities for Chicago’s youth

YCA's Reach

10,000+ Chicago youth directly served by YCA programs throughout 2015

Building bridges across the city

YCA serves 125 schools from 120+ Chicagoland zip codes

Our events

29,000+ total audience at events throughout 2015


Young Chicago Authors receives vital funding from foundations, corporations, government agencies and individuals. Without the support of our philanthropic community, YCA would not be able to provide innovative creative writing programs to more than 10,000 young people


We celebrated this LTAB with alumni, current students, and integral people of the festival. Checkout the series below!

LTAB Sweet 16 Series

Louder Than A Bomb Mixtape

Featuring Kweku Collins, Jamila Woods, Odd Couple, Akenya, and many more!

LTAB2016 Mixtape

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    Education Partnerships

    Young Chicago Authors, in partnership with the National Recreation Foundation and other Chicago area foundations, provides free 20-week literary arts partnership residencies to select CPS high schools within the North, South, Central and West regions of Chicago. Through an application process, selected schools work closely with a YCA teaching artist to deliver poetry programming that leads up to Louder Than A Bomb and impacts the culture of the school.


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    Chicago Beat

    Chicago Beat is an intensive program that builds upon the study of journalism in its traditional forms by incorporating the formats and platforms that resonate with teens and young adults, including the intersection of hip hop, poetry and investigative reporting.


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    Emcee Wreckshop

    Emcee Wreckshop is our weekly emcee open mic and workshop. Emcees and artists of all genres come together for an hour long workshop and then have the opportunity to perform at our music exclusive open mic.

    The program brings together rappers from all over the city and provides them with free workshops and an open mic led by some of the most talented hip hop artists in Chicago. Participants have opportunities to feature their work at the MC Olympics, on the Louder Than A Bomb Mixtape, and other high profile events throughout the calendar year.


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    Check The Method

    Check The Method, offers rigorous instruction in poetry and hip-hop spoken word to some of the most dedicated young writers in the city. In addition to learning new ways to put your pen to page, you will create new works that can be added to your portfolio of writing. Participants dedicated to this program are offered opportunities to submit their work for publication. This workshop is taught by Artistic Director, Kevin Coval, Associate Artistic Director, Jamila Woods, and Young Chicago Authors teaching artists.


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    WordPlay, is the longest running youth open mic in Chicago. Every Tuesday participants of all ages come to YCA (1180 N. Milwaukee) to perform their original work and listen to music and poetry by artists of all genre and skill level.

    Some of the illest up and coming artists in Chicago have hung out and performed at WordPlay. Alumni include: Chance The Rapper, Mick Jenkins, No-Name Gypsy, Saba, Donnie Trumpet, M&O and many others!