Support Teen Voices!

This afternoon, just as I was packing up to go home from work, I was flicking through my Tumblr dashboard to see what I had missed during the day. I was prepared, in various degrees for usual rounds of political rumbling, meditations and screeds on the Aurora tragedy, and even the all-too-early death of Sally Ride.  But as an advocate for women's voices in media, I was not prepared for what gut-wrenching news was in store:

Teen Voices is the only alternative print magazine created by and for girls in the country. Their local Boston program has a national, and even international, impact through the print and online magazines that reach hundreds of thousands of girls worldwide, and now it’s in danger.

Teen Voices is more than just a magazine; it’s a community institution: 

  • 87 Boston teen girls take part in SHOUT!(Sisters Helping Other Unheard Teens) and work as Teen Editors and writers for the print and online versions of Teen Voices.”  Girls come from the Boston neighborhoods of Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, West Roxbury, and Brighton.
  • Their teen constituents are 14 to 18 years of age; 82% come primarily from low-income families and 93% are girls of color (70% African descent, 18% Latina, 5% Asian), and 7% are Caucasian
  • 110 Boston neighborhood teen girls participate in Poetically Speaking, a forum in the Boston Girls Writing Community.
  • 6 Peer Leaders run programs and public forums.
  • 35 college women and recent college graduates are trained to mentor the teen editors in their production of Teen Voices’ print and online magazines.

Like many girls, participants in Teen Voices are dealing with serious issues at home and in their communities. The issues range from racism, sexism, elitism, hunger, violence, depression, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual identity exploration, and unplanned pregnancy. For many, schools are not institutions that support their ability to address these issues, or their self-confidence. They need safe spaces to talk—with adults as well as peers—so that they can feel validated, supported, and informed. Some girls have support at home with parents, grandparents, teachers, or religious leaders; for others, Teen Voices offers a rare source of consistent, supportive adults.

Due to a recent decrease in funding, Teen Voices is in crisis and must raise $300,000 by August 1st. 

I read every issue of Teen Voices in my high school library, and it was one of the first pieces of alternative media I had access to, setting the first sparks of critical thinking about mainstream media and the expressions and promulgation of privilege in society.

As a Bostonian, I am particularly proud that the magazine gives girls of color and lower income of my city a chance to feel that they matter too.  With all the wealth and universities concentrated in the Boston-Cambridge area, it would be all too easy for people of our low-income neighborhoods to fall through the cracks.  Institutions like Teen Voices need to exist and continue to encourage young people of all backgrounds that they as much of a voice as Harvard professors and Bank of America executives.

Everyone, please help save this wonderful magazine from extinction. Please, give what you can by August 1st.  Teen Voices must continue to be heard.

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