Youth Media Institute Mission
Youth Media Institute is an organization that strives to empower youth to become powerful leaders and artists by using media technologies to transform images about their communities, cultures, and themselves.
In a society where media is monopolized and driven by profit, we believe in giving youth the skills and education to take action and create their own media- Media that addresses issues that effect them, that voice their stories, and that reflect their identities and cultures! We believe in using media and digital arts as a tool for self-expression, empowerment, and social change, where the youth are centered in the production and educational process.
Youth Media Now!
The Youth Media Institute was created in an effort to mitigate the apparent dearth of social services and programs available to middle school and high school aged youth in the White Center community, one of the most ethnically diverse in the state of Washington. It began as a six-week summer training program as part of a pilot project that was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Like many low-income communities of color, White Center suffers from the “digital divide,” and as a result, young people lose out on crucial opportunities as we move into an increasingly digital world. Nearly fifty languages are spoken in the community and many residents are recent refugees. Of children under 18 years of age, 26% live below the poverty line and 22% of the total population does not have a high school degree. High school dropout rates reach as high as 73% in schools, with a 23% dropout rate for the district, while those that stay in school quickly become disengaged due to lack of support.
In the face of these obstacles, YMI achieves two principal goals: 1) to provide youth with the skills needed to succeed in today’s digital world; and 2) to increase youth civic engagement and community advocacy through leadership development activities.
YMI achieves these goals by connecting with young people through digital arts and media training to empower youth to create projects that validate their identities, their cultures, and their experiences. YMI students are trained in video and audio production techniques, digital photography, radio journalism, graphic design and editing software, website tools, spoken word, print media and more. In learning these technical skills, youth not only have the opportunity to express themselves using digital arts, but are able to address issues that affect their communities and develop marketable job skills in the process.
To date, YMI has now offered over five years of programming, having directly served over 350 youth, while indirectly touching thousands through youth-led radio and video pieces. After three successful years of serving an increasing number of youth through this program, YMI moved its headquarters to the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in the Delridge community, and began offering year-round programming that focused on advancing media education and community involvement. YMI’s continuous growth over the last several years has led it to become an essential resource for many young people in White Center and Southwest Seattle.