Mission: To increase literacy, empower youth, and inspire communities by bringing classic poetry to the streets and street poetry into the classroom.
About the Organization: Founded in 2006 by Diane Luby Lane — who, after touring colleges, high schools, jails, and detention centers with her one-woman show about the power of books, began teaching classic and spoken-word poetry in Los Angeles-area high schools — Get Lit – Words Ignite seeks to engage youth in their own future and unearth their potential by engaging them in great works of literature, in the classroom and beyond. According to the organization, one in four children in the United States grows up illiterate, and 79 percent of low-income African-American and Latinx third-grade students read below grade-level. The Get Lit Curriculum, which is aligned to Common Core Standards in both English and visual and performing arts, is taught in more than a hundred schools.
Current Programs: The Get Lit – Words Ignite Core Program, which can be administered by an English or drama teacher or implemented by a Get Lit resident teaching artist, includes a twelve-week or full-year curriculum during which students learn traditional poetry, "claim" a poem that resonates with them and pen their own spoken-word response piece; an in-school performance by the Get Lit Players, an award-winning youth poetry troupe; and participation in the three-day Classic Slam, where teams from more than fifty schools perform their poems and responses. Teachers receive professional development support through the Poetic Convergence convening and regular site visits from Get Lit's manager of education, as well as access to an online "Teachers Lounge" that offers teaching materials and tips.
The organization's programs also include a free drop-in class every weekend during the school year that's designed to help teens get into the habit of writing, find their voice, and hone their editing and performance techniques; a two-week master-class summer camp; and open mic events for community youth. For youth between the ages of 18 and 22, the Literari Fellows program offers the Literati Leadership Core, a professional development curriculum designed to prepare youth to become catalysts for positive change. In addition, the Carlos Segovia Scholarship Fund, which was establsihed in partnership with Beyond Baroque in memory of the late Get Lit Players member and U.S. Marine Carlos Segovia, offers two $3,000 scholarships annually to young writers pursuing a postsecondary education.
Website: Visitors to the Get Lit – Words Ignite website can request information about the curriculum; watch a video of a Classic Slam performance; learn about and/or book the Get Lit Players or Literati Fellows; watch the new weekly video series "Get Lit Now" or the docuseries Write to Riot, which follows seven school teams on their journey to the Classic Slam; and/or browse performance videos by theme. They also can keep abreast of the latest news, browse past email newsletters or subscribe, check out upcoming events, and learn how to get involved and/or make a donation.
Funding: Get Lit – Words Ignite is funded by individuals, foundations, and government agencies.