In the current ebb and flow of history, poetry may seem like the least conspicuous means of self-realization, but a single poem--a simple combination of well-chosen words--can liberate a young person's soul. "A great poem is no finish to a man or woman, but rather a beginning," wrote Walt Whitman. It is in this spirit of new beginnings that the To Be Heard Foundation (TBH) carries forth its mission: to educate American youth through heightened literacy and empower them with the mastery of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The To Be Heard Foundation accomplishes its mission by sponsoring the work of two core programs--Power Writers and Power Poetry--as well as educational workshops, seminars, multi-media events and publications.
The Power Writers program embeds trained mentors in our school systems —including some of the most disadvantaged urban neighborhoods in America — to work one-on-one with young writers, challenging them to express their emotions, find a personal voice, and develop their own life narratives. Students are encouraged to keep daily journals, read their poems out loud, participate in group discussions, attend lectures and go on field trips to cultural institutions. The program started at NYC's University Heights High School in 2001 and has expanded to more than 25 schools around the country, impacting thousands of youth poets.
Power Poetry is the first, and largest poetry website for young writers. The goal of the platform is to move users to action through empowered literacy. We are a digital community for poetry students who use innovative multimedia art as a tool for educational and social impact.
To date, we have engaged over 300,0000 poets, received over 135,000 poems from all 50 states and 175 countries, and mobilized 200,000 monthly active users to find the resources they need to write and share their stories with the world.
To Be Heard Documentary
In 2010, Filmmakers Roland Legiardi-Laura, Edwin Martinez, Deborah Shaffer, and Amy Sultan followed the lives of three students in the Power Writers program, compiling their stories in the award-winning documentary — To Be Heard.
The film follows the story of three teens from the South Bronx whose struggle to change their lives begins when they start to write poetry. As writing and reciting become vehicles for their expressions of love, friendship, frustration, and hope, we watch these three youngsters emerge as accomplished self-aware artists, who use their creativity to alter their circumstances. The documentary went on to win numerous awards from festivals across the country, including the Victoria Film Festival 2012, Nantucket Film Festival 2011, Seattle International Film Festival 201, Sarasota Film Festival 2011, Ellensburg Best Film Festival 2011, Teaneck International Film Festival 2011, San Diego Latino Film Festival 2011, DOC NYC 2010.