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Creative Youth Development BIPOC Alumni Council Shares Their Findings

Amy Chu, Program Officer

Youth leaders created a zine to document their work in 2021

a gradient background of pinks and pruples with the words "Helping Others, Creating Change & Breaking Cycles" overlaidLast spring, nine alumni from Creative Youth Development (CYD) programs supported by Mass Cultural Council were chosen to be involved in a six-month pilot and serve in a paid position as CYD BIPOC Alumni Council Members.

The goal of this Alumni Council was to provide opportunities for CYD alums to find support with each other, and to utilize and build platforms for their voices and visions. In turn, the alums would also partner with Mass Cultural Council program staff to help us better hear and infuse youth voice into our work with and on behalf of the cultural sector.

Over the course of the Alumni Council’s six-month term they:

  • Helped facilitate 10 CYD Community meetings
  • Ran 19 Alumni Council meetings
  • Participated in two trauma trainings
  • Participated in various national CYD funders calls and internal Mass Cultural Council
  • Designed, presented, and facilitated five of their own workshops:
    1. Youth, Power, and Art with EdVestors: Designed, led, and delivered a Virtual Forum co-led with Alums from EdVestors, City of Boston, and Boston Public Schools
    2. Active Listening: CYD call presented to over 40 practitioners in CYD
    3. Art of Healing: Designed for Alumni of CYD
    4. Art and Mental Health: Co-presented with Mass Cultural Council’s Community Initiative team
    5. Youth Focus Groups: Met with national CYD researchers, Denise Montgomery and Arielle Brown. Designed focus group questions and ran three focus groups with young people from Artists For Humanity, Hyde Square Task Force, and Raw Art Works.

To mark the 2021 work of the pilot, the Alumni Council created a zine. The zine is a testament of their work and their research, and we are so grateful to share it in a format which is, hopefully, just as vibrant.

As we moved into a second year of the pilot, we are focusing on the question, “How can youth voice impact the greater CYD field?” So in FY22, the Alumni Council has been focusing its efforts towards building stronger relationships and research. The lack of support for and by alumni is a weakness in the greater field of CYD. The Alumni Council has determined that alumni not only lack resources past graduation from CYD programs, but CYD programs still lack the collaborative platform of young, diverse voices in their design and therein the pathways to leadership (input is not enough).

Meet the Members of the 2022 CYD BIPOC Alumni Council

They are a small but mighty fierce team of creative and critical artists, performers, and thinkers:

Wize Angelique (she/her)
CYD Alum of Performance Project/First Generation
Wize graduated from Hampshire College, where she studied dance, theater, and psychology. Her thesis performance, titled Healing Through Storytelling and Embodiment, was about the Rwanda Genocide and its traumatic impacts on women. Her major theater and dance projects include Fon’ale, Tenderness, and Selections. Wize is the mother of 23-month-old Keza, and currently working as a Clinical Case Manager/Social Worker at Homebase, while freelancing with Performance Project. This year, Wize is representing the Alumni Council on the CYD Youth Arts Impact Task Force and in a possible think tank on mental health among CYD researchers.

Bendu David (she/they)
CYD Alum of Hyde Square Task Force, ICA, City Strings
This is Bendu’s second year in the CYD BIPOC Alumni Council. Bendu David is a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she is currently studying Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies. Their interests lie in creative writing, specifically poetry, though from an early age, Bendu has expressed herself through choir, violin, and dance. Through writing, Bendu advocates for discussions around mental health, healthy relationships, and Black Queer & POC representation. This year, she is writing about topics close to the hearts of young creatives of color and CYD alumni.

Rajaiah Jones (she/her)
CYD Alum of Raw Art Works
Rajaiah is currently working part-time as a Film School Instructor at Raw Art Work’s Real to Reel Film School. As a filmmaker, she’s collaborating on a documentary about public arts and gentrification and offering her production services to local businesses. Rajaiah was the CYD BIPOC Alumni Chairperson during its first pilot year. As a powerful facilitator, Rajaiah was also encouraging and supportive of her fellow 2021 council members. This year, she is having one-on-one conversations with CYD organizations across MA and other arts councils about creative youth employment and professional development. Rajaiah graduated from University of Massachusetts Amherst with a B.A. in Communication.

Download the Zine Created by the 2021 Creative Youth Development BIPOC Alumni Council

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