The Beat Within (a program of Pacific News Service)
The Beat Within is a writing and conversation workshop inside juvenile halls and a weekly publication that provides something few incarcerated youth have ever known, a view of themselves having something worthwhile to say.
The Beat Within is committed to providing incarcerated youth an opportunity to share their ideas and life experiences in a safe space that encourages literacy, self-expression and healthy, supportive relationships with adults and their community.
The Beat was founded in 1996 when David Inocencio, a social worker inside San Francisco’s Youth Guidance Center, realized that there was no vehicle for the anguished voices of the incarcerated youth he heard. He teamed up with Pacific News Service, and The Beat was born. From that single workshop and a 4-page compilation of writings about the death of rapper Tupac Shakur, The Beat has grown to 60-100 pages per week of writing from the 40-plus Bay Area juvenile hall units we visit weekly, plus the contributions of imprisoned youth and adults around the country who have discovered The Beat through our website and word of mouth.
Each week The Beat Within adult staff, contracted facilitators, and volunteers go inside the juvenile hall to hold writing workshops. Our staff and volunteers are a team of caring adults from all walks of life-- Some are poets and writers, some are ex-detainees or past workshop participants, many come from the communities that we work in.
All hand written pieces from the workshop are edited by workshop facilitators, typed up by staff and released youth interns, and published into a weekly magazine, in-house. Although this takes a lot of labor, the process ensures that all youth writings are equally considered for publication.
Each entry is published along with an adult response. The Beat Within encourages incarcerated youth to think more critically, broadly-- we do this by having a dialogue with them at every point of the publication. The Beat Within wants youth to know that we, as a community, are listening and responding to their thoughts and ideas.
At our headquarters, in San Francisco, we offer ex-detained youth 3 to 6-month internships. While they continue to write and are involved in publishing the weekly magazine, we have on-site services providing them with social services, counseling, job referrals, and more. In far away counties/states, we work to partner with community based organizations that offer similar services and create a local, community-based re-entry pathway for ex-detained youth.
As of 2008, The Beat Within workshops are in the following California counties and states: San Francisco, Marin County, Alameda, San Mateo, San Jose, Fresno, Monterey, Solano, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington DC.
In addition to reaching over 6,000 youth annually in our workshops inside the juvenile halls in seven California counties, each year The Beat offers paid media internships at our San Francisco office to 50 ex-detainees after their release, providing job training, media skills, social support and a safe place to hang out.
In 2008, The Beat Within is working to build community partnerships in Solano County, Santa Cruz, Monterey and Washington DC to address the needs of youth who are released.
275 Ninth Street San Francisco, CA 94103 Phone: (415) 503-4170 www.thebeatwithin.org EIN: 94-1709509
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