October 1997

The Nathan Cummings Foundation


October 1997

Pacific News Service 
San Francisco CA

Yo! Youth Outlook

Pacific News Service 's YO! Youth Outlook program links professional writers, journalists, and scholars with young people in at-risk situations. YO!'s purpose is to encourage young people to express themselves and communicate with others across cultural, racial, and ethnic lines, and to give them solid experience writing a newspaper for and about teens. Youth writers--some of them dropouts, former prisoners, homeless--are incorporated directly into the Pacific News Service office structure, writing their stories on computers, answering phones, and attending weekly editorial meetings. They earn a weekly stipend in return for 10 hours of work per week. The paper is published as a bi-monthly and distributed directly to some 20,000 young people in Bay Area schools, youth shelters, jails, group homes, public libraries, and youth centers

NCF recently helped YO! to establish a special program aimed at two high-risk youth populations--teenagers behind bars and homeless youth on the street. YO! has launched The Beat Within: A Weekly Newsletter of Writing from the Inside, which draws on pieces developed in 14 weekly writing workshops for young people detained in San Francisco's Juvenile Hall . They are also interested in developing alternative venues--photography, video, radio/audio, and cyberspace forums for voiceless youth. The seasoned writers and young adults at PNS believe that there is a special urgency to their work because these young people exhibit the greatest need for communication with the adult world. YO! seeks to bridge the gap between adults and youth so that adults have a better sense of how young people understand themselves and their lives.