GOLD2022

Get Lit - Words Ignite

aka Get Lit - Words Ignite, Inc   |   Los Angeles, CA   |  www.getlit.org

Mission

Get Lit – Words Ignite fuses classic and spoken word poetry to increase teen literacy on the page and in visual media. We cultivate enthusiastic learners emboldened to inspire social consciousness in diverse communities. Get Lit’s poetry and film curriculum engages young people by providing a creative outlet, community, and real-life work experience, transforming students into artists, activists, scholars, and stars.

Ruling year info

2009

Executive Director

Diane Luby Lane

Main address

672 S. La Fayette Park Pl., #10

Los Angeles, CA 90057 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

26-4644018

NTEE code info

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2019, 2019 and 2018.
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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

According to The Literacy Project, 25% of California’s 6 million students lack basic reading skills. With such poor readers, an estimated 44% of students entering Cal State schools need remediation (statistics from CA Legislative Analyst’s Office). Without the ability to read at a proficient level, our youth face great impediments to their success, including roadblocks to careers, to full participation in their communities, and to comprehension of national and global issues affecting their lives. Get Lit’s programs directly address these immense needs by providing a straightforward entry into literacy and self-expression and removing barriers to learning and success. Education in California is facing two crises: a lack of socio-emotional learning in our core curriculum, and the widening achievement gap. Get Lit’s curriculum gives youth a platform to deeply address their emotions and provides under-resourced youth with academic rigor, structure, and connectedness.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Get Lit In-School Program

The Get Lit In-School Program engages students in reading, writing, memorizing, and performing classic and original poetry, through sequential, hands-on classes throughout the school year. Fusing the worlds of canonical text and youth-led thought, it is the only program of its kind in the nation that combines the learning of classic literature with the creation of original poems. With our unique call-and-response technique, students claim a classic poem that resonates with them, then pen their own spoken word response, placing the greatest poets and thinkers in history in dialogue with our youth.

Our curriculum aligns with both the CA Common Core and VAPA Content Standards and has been approved as a University of California ‘A-G’ college prep elective. In addition to providing our 12- to 24-week In-School curriculum, we offer an advanced, full year course for grades 4-12. This course includes a robust textbook, "Words Ignite,” featuring top contemporary poets as well as traditional classics and student poems: from William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, and Langston Hughes, to Danez Smith, Kendrick Lamar, and Nikki Giovanni.

Through the In-School Program, students learn classic poems, and about their poets and history; poetic techniques (e.g. alliteration, rhyme); poetic form (e.g. free form, sonnet, quatrain); and methods of reading and interpretation. Inspired by their study of classic poems, students write and perform original response poems, either solo or in groups. As the program progresses, students develop communication and teamwork skills, and become more confident and engaged in school. In-School Program students improve their reading comprehension, vocabulary, and writing skills; increase critical thinking, public speaking, and performance abilities; develop greater academic engagement and self-efficacy; and build vital social skills that are rooted in self-awareness, confidence, personal responsibility, and compassion.

The program features dynamic poetry performances and workshops each semester by our youth troupe, the Get Lit Players. Participating schools have the opportunity to compete in our annual 3-day Classic Slam, the largest teen poetry slam in the U.S., held in iconic Los Angeles theaters before an audience of 6,500 peers and community members.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents

This three-day, vital cultural event is the only teen poetry competition in the nation to combine recitation of classic poems with student response poems. It takes place annually in April during National Poetry Month, bringing together hundreds of diverse youth who have participated in our rigorous In-School Program. Approximately 90% of participants are students of color and 74% are under-resourced and enrolled in Title 1 schools.

Throughout the year, school teams practice diligently for the Classic Slam, with Get Lit supporting their efforts with high-quality coaching. At the Classic Slam, students face off to “slam” classic poems by poets such as Neruda, Lorca, Hughes, Dickinson, and countless others, in combination with their own spoken word responses. They cheer, snap and clap, shed tears, and share hugs over stories surprisingly similar to their own. Get Lit encourages and supports these youth as they learn, create, share poetry, and build a culture of engagement, excellence, and empathy.

Competing school teams are judged by leading writers, actors, and artists in two of Los Angeles’ most grand and iconic venues: the Los Angeles Theatre Center (quarter- and semi-finals) and the Theatre at the Ace Hotel (finals).

Population(s) Served
Adolescents

Get Lit’s After School Programs include our ongoing Saturday Drop-In poetry workshops for all experience levels, and new (2020) online series Workshop Wednesdays, all-ages sessions on the art of writing led by world-famous poets, and Mixtape Mondays, covering the business of writing, including submitting poems and social media promotion, led by award-winning poets including Get Lit staff members. Through our Emerging Writers Fellowship (EWF), presented in partnership with the California State Library, we mentor 60 youth poets per year through weekly workshops. We publish their chapbooks with the Los Angeles Press, Allegria Press (Latinx writers), and Stone Soup Community Press. Our poetry workshops for Transition-Aged Youth (TAY), given in partnership with the L.A. County Department of Mental Health, introduce participants to the discipline of writing and guide them in finding their voice.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents

The Get Lit Players is our award-winning troupe of teen poets, entered by audition. They reach thousands of peers and community members annually through concerts and workshops in California, and across the globe via the internet. They are the only teen performance troupe in the nation that combines the study and performance of classic poetry with original, spoken-word poems.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents

Graduating Get Lit Players may join our Literati Leadership Core, a year-long leadership development and job training cohort. This program provides Fellows with a model and training to obtain jobs in high-demand sectors, establish a lasting network of support and professional connections, and develop the necessary technical and life skills to succeed in the workplace. Literati receive individualized coaching and mentorship by Get Lit staff, teaching artists, and prominent civic and artistic leaders, as well as on-the-job training and apprenticeship opportunities.

Population(s) Served
Young adults

Get Lit Media includes our Film Education Program and youth-run original Content Studio. Our Film Program includes: Pilot I (Intro to Filmmaking), a free 12-week, 3x per year series and Pilot II (Advanced Filmmaking), a free, 12-week, 2x per year intensive culminating in the creation of two short student films. Poetic Screenwriters Lab: A yearlong series for screenwriter-poets to work with established writers. Youth Edit Lab: Training in post-production. Current (2020) productions of our Content Studio are: Get Lit Minute: Weekly podcast featuring one poet and poem including classic poets from our In-School Anthology; Help Videos: A how-to series on Get Lit’s educational techniques; O!: An original ode series shot by our youth poets with one camera, one take; Get Lit Globe: Our poets interview well-known writers around the world; and Get Lit Greats: A series featuring the best works and performances from Get Lit.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Young adults

Where we work

Awards

Literacy Awards Best Practice Honoree 2020

Library of Congress

Silver Medal for "Get Lit Rising" 2016

Nautilus Book Awards

ADL Stand Up Award for "Our Words Collide" 2022

Anti-Defamation League

Special Commendation in recognition of superior service to Los Angeles 2016

Mayor Eric Garcetti

Special Commendation in recognition of superior service to Los Angeles 2015

L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award Finalist 2012

The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

These goals and intended outcomes guide all Get Lit programs and operations:
1. Foster youth creativity and expression
2. Ignite students’ love of learning and language
3. Involve young people in an examination of and national dialogue around the conditions of their community and the world
4. Build critical thinking, reading, writing, and public speaking skills
5. Cultivate social skills that are rooted in excellence, personal responsibility, empathy, and compassion
6. Increase teen literacy and graduation rates
7. Promote college readiness and enrollment
8. Expand the professional opportunities available to diverse youth
9. Offer students tools for empowerment and success in school and life
10. Deliver sustainable, scalable programs that serve as exemplary education models

Our curriculum takes into account all modes of literacy: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Our students not only cultivate a passion for reading, writing, and analyzing poetry, but also develop multiple related literacies: communicating and collaborating with others, performing and speaking publicly, and engaging deeply with their own and others’ poetry in a way that fosters social engagement and activism, as well as deep interpersonal and intrapersonal transformation. This social/emotional component is an unusual choice in education curricula.

With Get Lit acting as a vehicle for youth to discover, develop, and amplify their voice, our students gain confidence transferable to every other aspect of their lives. Participation improves school attendance, reduces disciplinary infractions, and supports achievement in English/Language Arts, all important predictors of on-time high school graduation. Get Lit youth develop communication, teamwork, and leadership abilities; learn and practice marketable skills; and gain insight into opportunities and career paths. Our students develop greater future orientation, increasing their drive toward setting and achieving long-term goals.

By deeply considering social causes of importance to them, our youth become more interested and confident in their ability to affect change in their communities. Get Lit provides our youth poets with a far-reaching platform to not only express their creativity, but to speak out regarding a variety of issues of importance to them, putting them on the front lines of systemic change. Our students are able to make their voices heard regarding forces and events affecting their lives, whether family and neighborhood dynamics, the pandemic, or Black Lives Matter. Get Lit cultivates a diverse network of mentors who encourage young participants by serving as role models and guiding our students toward positive life choices. Through poetry, and with the ongoing support of the Get Lit family, our students gain a self-knowledge and assurance that lays the groundwork for purposeful, fruitful lives.

Since 2006, Get Lit has offered its immersive curriculum to public, charter, and private high schools, throughout Los Angeles. Currently taught in over 100 high schools, often in multiple classrooms within the same school, this dynamic, immersive 12-week unit engages students in the reading, writing, memorization and performance of classic and spoken
word poetry. The Get Lit Curriculum is aligned to the California State Common Core Standards (Strand 9 and Strand 11: numbers 3,
4, 6, 7 and 10). It is the only curriculum of its kind in Los Angeles County schools that combines the learning of classic
literature with the creation of new, original poems. This process develops reading and writing skills, critical thinking
skills, and encourages students to find and use their voice. Literacy becomes a passion and language an outlet for their
deepest levels of humanity and creativity.
In 2014, over 5,000 teens (51% male; 49% female) completed the Get Lit Curriculum and over 50,000 students annually
attend and are inspired by Get Lit performances. The ethnic breakdown of Get Lit students and performance audience
is approximately 37.8% Latino, 27.6% African American, 21.9% Asian American, 7.2% Caucasian, and 5.5% other
ethnicities.

Schools that offer the Get Lit Curriculum hold a graduation ceremony each semester to celebrate and showcase the
work that the students have completed. Students who complete at least one 12-week unit perform in front of their peers,
teachers, administrators, and parents. Teens who want to go further, compete in a school wide slam for one of six spots
on the school team that will advance to the Classic Slam, which is held over three days at the Los Angeles
Theatre Center (downtown) and the Theatre at the Ace Hotel (downtown). Other school teams participate by attending the
Classic Slam as a popular field trip. Get Lit offers Classic Slam poets and teacher/coaches high quality coaching
throughout the school year. This high energy event brings teams from the most diverse communities in Los Angeles and beyond to
compete for scholarships with a spirit of camaraderie and joy.

Classic Slam poets are invited to audition for the Get Lit Players, the troupe of 12-15 young poets who perform for
packed school auditoriums throughout the County, at special events such as the Los Angeles Festival of Books, and at
the annual Brave New Voices Festival. In 2020, teams from around the world competed in BNV, and the
Players placed 2nd in the competition. In 2011, the Get Lit Players performed at the White House at the
invitation of First Lady Michelle Obama. They have performed at The Hollywood Bowl, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, at fundraisers for the environment (2020... the Fundraiser .... Jane Fonda's Fire rill Fridays). They are Peace
Through all of these activities, Get Lit serves approximately 15,000 – 20,000 teens annually, 70% of whom are
considered 'at risk' and are enrolled in Title 1 schools.

In 2005, Diane Luby Lane wrote and performed a solo show about the poets and authors who most influenced her, touring it in the Southwest with poet and literacy advocate Jimmy Santiago Baca in venues ranging from high schools to prisons. In response to the enthusiasm of teachers and teens, she developed the modules that would transform classrooms into poetic laboratories, and founded Get Lit in 2006. Since then, the organization has grown from serving 3 schools to 145 schools annually, offering youth acceptance and hope, helping them focus on their education, and preparing them to succeed in life and work. In 2020, Get Lit was selected as a Library of Congress Literacy Awards Best Practice Honoree, one of only a few in the nation.

We are an innovative leader in education with a reputation for integrity in program implementation and effectiveness. As part of our ongoing work to dismantle systemic barriers to success for our students, in 2017, we expanded our In-School Program to offer an advanced, full year course option for grades 9-12, utilizing our textbook, "Words Ignite.” The University of California has approved this course as an "A-G" provider, satisfying the "G" General Elective credit and "B" English credit. This is a major development as students in under-resourced areas are often not able to get the credits they need to graduate and attend California universities because enough "A-G" courses are offered at their high schools. Furthermore, because of its track record of success in engaging students who are at risk of missing an on-time graduation, the L.A. Unified School District has approved our curriculum as a certified Intervention Course for 9th and 10th grade. Through our Teacher Professional Development Program, school partners receive customized mentor visits and individual coaching for teachers, as well as professional development workshops including our annual day long Poetic Convergence.

Our professional team members have extensive knowledge and experience in the fields of education, poetry, literature, media, performing arts, development, and arts administration. Our staff and teaching artists have a deep understanding of and sensitivity to our target demographic and the issues affecting them. Our pedagogy and mission are grounded in the belief that all people have important stories to tell. We place importance on presenting students with the voices of artists from marginalized communities, engaging our students in conversations about inequity and injustice, and validating and building the learning power of our youth. We offer a bridge to success between high school and young adulthood that many educational institutions lack. Our advanced programs support youth both in school and beyond graduation, cultivating 21st century career-building skills, including job training in high-demand sectors, and coaching in life skills needed to succeed in the workplace.

In the last three fiscal years, Get Lit's organizational budget has more than doubled, and our staff has expanded from 4 to 7 full-time members. Also, in August, the Get Lit curriculum received A-G status, signifying that it can satisfy the “G" elective requirement for college prep coursework in high school. Our education department has now begun work on a new textbook and the outline for a stand-alone Get Lit class that can be implemented in area high schools, rather than acting as a supplement to an English or Drama curriculum. Last, on October 18, Simon & Schuster released Get Lit Rising, a collection of personal narratives, classic and response poems, and classroom exercises by Get Lit Founder/Executive Director Diane Luby Lane and the Get Lit Players.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Get Lit serves youth in diverse communities primarily throughout southern California including students in grades 4-12, young adults in early college or career exploration, and Transition Age Youth aging out of the foster care system. Our curriculum is currently taught in 26 Los Angeles County school districts, and in school districts in 10 other California counties and 10 other states (IN, MA, MD, NC, PA, TX, VA, WA, WI, WV, plus the District of Columbia), Canada, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, England, Australia, and Japan. Of the 10,000 teens who graduate from our curriculum annually, and the 50,000 youth we reach through all programs, services, and performances, 85% are from under-resourced areas and enrolled in Title I schools, and 92% are students of color.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    To answer the call for greater equity and appreciation of the contributions of Black literary artists, our 2020-21 Anthology was composed entirely of works by Black poets and available free to schools across the globe. To reach the greatest number and widest socio-economic strata of youth with our life-changing services, in 2021 we launched Uni(verse), the world's first interactive poetry web platform focused on improving both writing and performance skills that can be used independently and in the classroom. To prepare for Ethnic Studies being a graduation requirement in 2023 for all California students, in 2022 we created 3 Ethnic Studies curricula that celebrate the stories of BIPOC people through the lens of poetry and history.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Our students and communities are centrally engaged in our work and decision-making, and our adaptable programs and services are easily able to respond to their needs, be they cultural, linguistic, educational, emotional, or otherwise. Our staff members have meaningful daily interactions with our teachers and students and are therefore constantly able to assess issues of importance to them, and to assure that our programs remain engaging, impactful, and relevant to those we serve. Our programs have developed in direct response to these needs expressed in surveys, conversations, and powerfully written testimonials.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection,

Financials

Get Lit - Words Ignite
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Get Lit - Words Ignite

Board of directors
as of 05/19/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Delta Wright

Delta Wright Interior Design

Diane Luby Lane

Get Lit-Words Ignite, Inc

Alexander Trivas

The Brentwood School

Samantha Paige

Last Cut Project

Harriett Aronow

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Bennett Johnson

The UCI Group, Inc.

Elizabeth Lee

In-n-Out Corporate

Cristina Pacheco

Nonprofit Consultant

Naveena Ponnusamy

Venice Family Clinic

Wendy Posner

Posner Fine Art

Michael Green

Bet Tzedek Legal Services

Gina Belafonte

Sankofa

Jazmine Williams

Communications Color of Change

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 5/10/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 05/10/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.