The National Youth Poet Laureate program is an initiative of Urban Word, an award-winning youth literary arts and youth development organization, in collaboration with local youth literary arts organizations across the country; and championed by the leading national literary and arts organizations, including the President’s Committee on the Arts & the Humanities, the Library of Congress, Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, PEN Center USA, and Cave Canem.
In 2008, the award-winning literary arts organization, Urban Word, launched the nation’s first-ever Youth Poet Laureate program, in partnership with the NYC Voters Assistance Commission and the NYC Mayor’s Office. Since then, Urban Word has honored 9 Youth Poet Laureates in New York City, each having released their own debut collections of poetry from Penmanship Books. In 2014, Urban Word partnered with six of the top youth literary arts organizations in Los Angeles to launch the first-ever LA Youth Poet Laureate program, and announced the inaugural Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate. Since then, Urban Word has launched Youth Poet Laureate programs in 41 more cities across the country and counting. In September of 2016, Michelle Obama celebrated the program at the White House, and honored the inaugural group of finalists for the country’s first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate. In April 2017, Urban Word and the its supporting partner organizations named the inaugural National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, at Gracie Mansion in New York City with the Mayor and his family; and this past fall—Amanda and the program were invited to US Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith’s opening reading at the Library of Congress.