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Split This Rock Youth Programs

Each year Split This Rock serves hundreds of young people and the schools they attend by offering them opportunities to write, perform, and connect with a diverse community of socially engaged writers. Our programs have been acknowledged for excellence in youth arts programming by DC City Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, and as a 2016 Mayor’s Arts Awards finalist. Through the art and witness of poetry, young people not only develop exceptional writing and public speaking skills but also acquire an invigorated sense of self and insight into their power to transform themselves and society.

Multiple black and white images of youth programs in action, including youth poets on stage performing poems, youth sitting together at a workshop, youth posing for a group picture, and youth in the audience at an event cheering.












Check out the highlights from the 2016-17 year online.

Split This Rock Youth Programs provide year-round opportunities for personal and artistic growth for youth ages 12-19 including:

Writing & Performance Workshops
Offered both in and out of schools, workshops are led by dynamic teaching artists and support youth in honing their artistic skills for effective, concise, and powerful writing and public speaking.

School-Based Activities
Exceptional poets serving as teaching artists are placed in schools throughout the DC metro area to support educators, students, and poetry clubs. Available to lead workshops, open mics, spoken word poetry competitions called “slams,” and school assemblies, teaching artists also help students prepare for Split This Rock’s regional poetry festivals: Louder Than a Bomb and Hyper Bole. Support, feedback, and tools such as lesson plans are provided to educators at schools to assist them in integrating poetry into the curriculum. As a Curriculum Partner with DC Public Schools, Split This Rock designs curriculum for integrating poetry into high school English, music, and visual arts classes.

Open Mics
Monthly and school-based open mics offer young people safe space to share their art and be affirmed for it within a community of their peers.

Louder Than a Bomb Teen Poetry Slam Festival
Louder Than a Bomb gathers over 200 youth on teams representing high schools throughout the DC area. A regional version of Young Chicago Authors’ nationally celebrated festival, the event is designed to offer youth safe space to tell their stories, build community across lines of difference, and speak out on social issues. Youth participate in open mics, workshops, and a tournament of slam competitions crowning one school’s team as champion.

Hyper Bole
Witness the power of youth poetry, or participate yourself if you're someone 13-19 years old! Hyper Bole is the largest individual youth poetry slam and festival in Virginia, bringing together youth from northern Virginia, DC, and Maryland for a full day of individual slams, poetry workshops, an open mic, and a final slam that culminates the event. At Finals, one youth will be crowned Hyper Bole Champion and win a $1,000 scholarship. Presented by Split This Rock Youth Programs in partnership with George Mason University's School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Mason Reads, and the Fall for the Book Festival. Visit Split This Rock's Youth Programs website to find more information and register for the event. For more information about Hyper Bole and to register for the event, visit Split This Rock's Youth Program's website

DC Youth Slam Team (DCYST)
Annually, through a series of performance poetry competitions, called slams, held throughout the city, Split This Rock selects a team of youth between the ages of 13 and 19 to serve as ambassadors for Split This Rock and the DC metro area. Members of the DCYST are coached on writing and performance; speak out on social issues; serve as leaders within Split This Rock Youth Programs; participate in youth poetry gatherings such as Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival where the team took 1st place in 2014; and travel to perform regionally, nationally, and periodically abroad.

Ushindi Performance Tribe
This year, Split This Rock piloted a professional spoken word apprenticeship initiative for young adults ages 19 and up. Comprised this year of DC Youth Slam Team alumni, members of Ushindi are available to perform, lead workshops, and assist with other engagements. Ushindi members gain experience, participate in professional development activities, create professional press kits, and build impressive resumes. So far this year, the group has performed at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, at the grand opening of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, and as the opening act for Common and the NSO Pops at the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall! For further details or to have Ushindi at your next event, send an email to

For More Information

Please visit the DC Youth Slam Team on Facebook or Twitter, the Split This Rock Youth Programs website, or Split This Rock's Upcoming Events page. Also, enjoy videos of youth performances on the DC Youth Slam Team Youtube channel.