It would be a massive understatement to say that 2020 was a difficult year and even as the world reopens, we are still reeling from the aftermath.
In addition to the pandemic that destroyed so many lives and robbed us of friends, family and neighbors, the young content creators of color we serve at YR Media had to contend with a multitude of inequities at every level. They covered the senseless deaths that sparked a #BlackLivesMatter resurgence, documenting the deaths of people who looked like them and their families. They wrote and recorded about, but were also subjected to, attacks on LGBTQ+ and DACA rights, as well as the recent wave of anti-AAPI violence.
Throughout, our YR stars persevered as did our dedicated staff, working lockstep with one another to deliver on our 25-plus-year legacy of centering the voices of underrepresented youth.
It is my honor and privilege to share with you, our community, just how far their voices have carried.
On June 15, philanthropist (and exemplary human being) MacKenzie Scott announced that YR Media, along with 286 other amazing organizations were awarded unrestricted gifts from the MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett Foundation. With this $2.5-million dollar investment, the largest single unrestricted grant in our organization’s history, YR Media became part of this cohort who received “no strings attached” investment that underscores their staunch belief that nonprofits know what they need and know what they have to do in order to deliver upon their promise to their communities.
We will live up to that level of trust and beyond, by leveraging these dollars to continue to pay our YR Media youth employees and correspondents for all of their hard work (no unpaid internships, folks!) We will continue to pour into the resources we offer, both virtually and in-person, including our full-service video, news and music production facilities. We will continue to prioritize support resources for our YR stars, which includes mental health counseling and healthy food and mobile pantry. We will continue to pass the mic to communities who desperately deserve and need one, as we have with our national network of youth correspondents and our recently opened virtual (soon-to-be physical) Midwest hub in Chicago that ushers in perspectives from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and beyond.
Though we are proud that we closed 2020 on a strong financial high note, surpassing our end-of-year goal by a whopping 17%, we have been reminded by the pandemic that nobody knows what the future holds. This gift and our own careful fiscal stewardship most certainly allows us to increase our capacity, but we are also cautious about the post-pandemic landscape and even more acutely aware of needs among young people beyond our Oakland headquarters.
So while we invite you to join us in celebrating what you have helped us achieve, by pouring into us with support (moral or financial), we also ask you to continue with us on this mission. Help us continue to pave the way for a long overdue overhaul of the media and music landscape to make sure that the voices of upcoming and future generations are not only heard but amplified to the highest possible volume.
As our nearly three decades reveal, we will always do the work. But we can do so much more with the support of our growing national YR Media community.
Kyra Kyles, CEO of YR Media