At the heart of YCA pedagogy is the idea that everyone is an expert of their own experience.
We begin by asking the question, “Where are you from?” The answer leads to an investigation of the worlds we inhabit, the places and people around us that provide ingredients for our poetic inquiries.
Our artistic practice is steeped in the Chicago literary tradition of realist portraiture, drawing from poets, essayists, and lyricists, both time-honored and contemporary. In the tradition of legendary Chicago writers Gwendolyn Brooks and Studs Terkel, we encourage young people to document their daily lives in their own words. In the spirit of hip-hop, we adhere to the idea that everyone has a story to tell, and anyone is allowed to participate in the cypher. Our practice encourages a deep kind of listening that leads to radical empathy. We believe that youth voices must be at the center of civic discourse, from classrooms to city hall.
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 and artistic ambitions.