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Our Programs and Curriculum

Ensemble-Based Program ModelWe value leadership grounded in the collective's power and healing. Through building a culture of the ensemble, participants see their leadership as interconnected with that of their peers, adult allies, and their communities.

The ensemble is both an entry point and a metaphor for the kind of leadership we want to see in the world. Trust, relationships, accountability, and an orientation toward justice are rooted in disrupting racism, classism, capitalism, and other systems of oppression that value individualism, intellectualism, perfectionism, and power hoarding.

  • Afterschool Brooklyn Prep cohort and TAs
  • WW participants performing at STR 2022
  • Participants at STR 2022
We believe in the transformative power of art & performance to engage audiences and inspire activism.
Read Our HerStory

Our Program Goals

Through our programs we aim to:

  • Strengthen participants’ voices and self-expression through ensemble-based theater, spoken work, writing, and other artistic forms
  • Develop girls’ critical thinking skills, individual creative talents, artistry, teamwork, capabilities, self-awareness, and knowledge of the movements for women’s liberation
  • Foster the development of activist artists by connecting individual struggles to longer systemic problems
  • Provide tools to both think globally and take action locally
  • Develop socially conscious young people who are able to digest and dissect social issues through art
  • Create a safe community where participants can connect with one another and with themselves
  • Examine systems of oppression

The Girl Be Heard Curriculum

Our curriculum offers multiple artistic pathways to explore storytelling that centers youth truth-telling and activism.

View our curriculum overview

We structure our curriculum around four units to support the journey of discovery for young people: understanding themselves, their context, their power as storytellers, and their ability to use performance to explore our framing topics–racial justice, gender equity, environmental justice, and global solidarity as a door into the more specific topic areas that youth identify as areas of interest.

Together with our participants, we explore these topics as a door into the more specific topic areas that youth identify with through a performance-based approach by incorporating theater exercises and skills to support a mid-year and end-of-year performance for an audience.

Key Areas of Development Our programs support and develop the participants' activist and leadership identity, as well as their artistic voice and skill.

Group of teenagers raising their fists in protest in new york
huddle of after school students making collages
development Skills
Jamilah Alumni speaking at It Start with the Arts
Group of teenagers raising their fists in protest in new york

Activist Skills

  • Creating shared space
  • Critical thinking
  • Unpacking power, identity & privilege
  • Connecting community issues to personal experience
  • Inspired to make change
huddle of after school students making collages

Artistic Skills

  • Writing, editing, giving & receiving feedback
  • Public speaking, oration
  • Voice, diction, cadence
  • Use of body language
  • Stage presence
  • Collaboration and devising
Jamilah Alumni speaking at It Start with the Arts

Leadership development Skills

  • Problem-solving
  • Taking initiative
  • Active accountability - personal and collective
  • Contributing positively to group norms/shared space
  • Self-awareness

Our Curriculum Approach

Because we live in a world that repeatedly silences the voices of girls and gender-expansive youth, we aim to create and actively maintain a healing-centered environment. This approach encourages our participants to share their perspectives and stories.

Our programs culminate with original performances that raise awareness of domestic and global issues affecting youth. Some topics we’ve addressed include:

  • Identity (race, class, sexual orientation, ability, etc.)
  • Body image, suicide, teen pregnancy, substance abuse
  • Gun violence, sex trafficking, forced child marriage
  • Violence against women and girls
  • Civil and human rights
ta teaching participants