Oakland-based YR Media Receives $2.5M Grant from Mackenzie Scott and Dan Jewett Foundation

Award-winning youth media organization and production company celebrates generous investment into its mission of amplifying the voices and work of BIPOC creators

OAKLAND, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–YR Media (formerly Youth Radio) today announces a $2.5M grant from the Mackenzie Scott and Dan Jewett Foundation, an astounding investment into the 25-plus-year-old youth media organization headquartered in Oakland. This marks the largest single unrestricted grant in the history of YR Media, which started as a storefront operation amplifying BIPOC youth voice via public radio partners and has evolved into a national multimedia platform and education center serving young people ages 14 to 29.

In a Medium post dated June 15, philanthropist Mackenzie Scott publicly announced that the donation to YR Media and “286 other teams were selected through a rigorous process of research and analysis.” At the start of her powerful statement, Scott wrote: “The headline I would wish for this post is ‘286 Teams Empowering Voices the World Needs to Hear.’”

Indeed, empowering underrepresented youth voices from communities of color is the focus of YR Media. From their downtown Oakland headquarters, the award-winning organization offers free media education and career pathway training as well as support resources, including mental health counseling and healthy meals. YR Media graduates move on to compensated roles within the various departments of the organization, including peer teachers within Media Education, producers within full-service video and music production facilities; developers for the interactive group; programmers for a live-streaming station; and reporters for the newsroom with top-notch audio capability. YR Media also invests in young content creators in underrepresented communities across the country, who serve as contributors covering important issues including voter suppression, #BlackLivesMatter, LGBTQ+-focused legislation and the recent wave of anti-AAPI sentiment and violence.

“YR Media, like so many of our other peers both in the nonprofit and media realms, has weathered the storm of the pandemic, shifting to virtual without missing a step in our programming or a story on our rapidly growing platform,” said Kyra Kyles, CEO of the organization that, last year amid the COVID-19 crisis, still managed to open a flourishing new virtual Midwest hub based in Chicago to deepen and enrich a national reach that includes the 300 youth correspondents across the country. “We will make sure that this exciting investment into our youth content creators translates into amplifying even more youth voices, including in the Midwest and the South where we have a growing, powerful presence.”

In addition to enhancement of existing resources for the thousands of young people who come through the award-winning nonprofit’s physical and virtual doors, the funds will be leveraged to increase and diversify YR Media’s content output, building upon recent wins including the national rollout on PBS of its flagship documentary Unadopted. YR Media also produces an Ambies-nominated podcast Adult ISH that recently wrapped its fifth season and is distributed via Radiotopia.

“Having worked alongside some of the longtime outstanding staff and witnessing the talent of the young people YR serves, the impact of this gift cannot be measured,” said YR Media Board Chair Julius Toledo, who previously worked at YR Media prior to joining the Board of Directors in 2014.

“This generous investment into what I call our YR stars is both an incredible honor and an inspiration during what has been a bleak time in our nation’s history, particularly for BIPOC youth,” Kyles added. “Now, more than ever in a country divided by ‘isms,’ young creators’ voices are the ones that demand and deserve to be heard.”

For more information on YR Media or to lend your support to their mission of passing the mic to the next generation of BIPOC media leaders, please visit yrmedia.org.

About YR Media

YR Media, formerly Youth Radio, is an award-winning national network of diverse young journalists and artists from underrepresented communities who create content for this generation. Headquartered in downtown Oakland, California, our non-profit has spent 25 years helping future generations build crucial skills in journalism, arts and media. We produce journalism, music, graphic design, podcasts and documentaries that disrupt and shape the mainstream narrative.


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