Dallas City of Learning Partners: Dallas Youth Poets

Established: August 2011 by Joaquin Zihuatanejo

About: Dallas Youth Poets is a nonprofit organization founded by poet and teacher Joaquin Zihuatanejo that seeks to empower youth in Dallas and the greater Dallas area by providing them a safe space and a platform to have their voices be heard. We teach students in Dallas ages 14 to 19 that their voices have power, and with that power they can change themselves, their communities, and the world. We teach performance and writing, but we also teach life skills like working together as a team, leadership, and commanding one’s space, all of which prove beneficial in making our Dallas Youth Poets better students and in turn better citizens and people.

Why is Summer Learning so Important?
“Summer learning is crucial to the development of our young students in Dallas to recognize learning as a life long endeavor,” says Zihuatanejo. “Learning is not something we do for two semesters of the year. We do it every day and that’s one of the goals of Dallas Youth Poets, to make young students life long readers, writers, thinkers, and learners.”

Why Partner with Dallas City of Learning?
“Dallas City of Learning is an ideal partner for Dallas Youth Poets,” says Zihuatanejo. “Together we can spread the word about each other’s movements. And both movements exist to empower youth. Both DYP and DCoL believe in the youth of Dallas and want to provide services for them, so the partnership is perfect.”

How Does Your Participation in Dallas City of Learning Benefit Dallas Youth Poets Kids?
“The partnership gave students at Dallas Youth Poets the opportunity and chance to cross pollinate with other organizations in Dallas that seek to serve and empower students,” says Zihuatanejo. “We are so grateful for the online platform DCoL created that showcased not only DYP but countless other youth empowerment agencies in Dallas.”

What is Your Vision and Passion for the Future of Education?
“Education happens in the classroom, in the living room, in workshops all over the city both during academic session and during the summer,” says Zihuatanejo. “We as educators should strive to make every moment we have with young people a teaching/learning opportunity. Sometimes we teach, they learn. Other times they teach, we learn. At Dallas Youth Poets we exist to make students better poets, readers, and thinkers. We are a poetry slam club, but first and foremost we are an engaging, educational experience for the youth of Dallas. “

— Mario Tarradell