Category Archives: Amplify

Announcing 2018 Amplify Grants

For the third year in a row, Mass Cultural Council is proud to award 15 Amplify grants totaling $15,000 to projects designed and executed by young people in programs receiving YouthReach or SerHacer funding, furthering the Commonwealth’s investment in youth leadership and empowerment.

This year the Amplify process not only encouraged young people to design and lead their own projects for their communities’ benefit, but also included young people and program alums into the evaluation panel. This unique panel worked with impeccable professionalism to ensure that proposed projects had the right balance of quality, innovation, and youth involvement, and thrived in the opportunity to have a voice in how these funds are helping programs across the state.

2018 Amplify panelists: (Left to right) Gladys Hidalgo, Raw Art Works; Rachel Cummings, Express Yourself; Corey DePina, Zumix; Raquel Navarro, Sociedad Latina; and Marquis Victor, Elevated Thought. With Shaneez Tyndall, Mass Cultural Council.Thanks to our 2018 Amplify panelists: (Left to right) Gladys Hidalgo, Raw Art Works; Rachel Cummings, Express Yourself; Corey DePina, Zumix; Raquel Navarro, Sociedad Latina; and Marquis Victor, Elevated Thought. With Shaneez Tyndall, Mass Cultural Council.

2018 Amplify Grant Recipients

A conceptual dance project demonstrating and addressing social issues present among young teens such as bullying, body image, and cultural differences. The dance will be performed at the Wake up the Earth Festival and Dance for World community.

Youth will experience a career exploration of the fashion field learning how to create and put on their own photo shoots, design and construct custom made clothing using fabric materials and equipment, and publish a magazine highlighting their efforts and successes throughout the year.

Teen facilitator Andrine will plan the curriculum through 2017-2018 and execute monthly lessons and a series of creative writing workshops for teens and preteens in coordination with Books of Hope and Mystic Learning Center staff and administration.

Through music and illustration, the tour choir will compose works of art that visualize ‘what music means to me.’ Members will use various mediums to personalize their work which will be presented to the choir, photographed and made into a banner which will be displayed at local cafes, Boston Public Library Dorchester, and the Strand Theater.

Through a series of hands-on workshops, students will use Vocaloid – a software program which enables users to synthesize “singing” – to learn about vocal synthesis, music production, animation, and creative collaboration through the creation of original songs and music videos.

Students will create the Port Art blog to document stories, articles, videos, updates, and personal podcasts focusing on two community needs – the important role of arts in Cambridge and youth voice. The blog plans to engage 150 teen contributors.

Falling under Elevated Thought’s ‘Nature of Home’ focus, the documentary project ‘Immigrant Narratives’ will capture immigration stories of members of the community. Stories will come to life through camera interviews, photography, and interpretation of these narratives through poetry.

Designed by leaders of the Youth Truth performance ensemble, ‘Sharing our Truth’ is an abbreviated performance of the Youth Truth script. The project will spread awareness of teens experiencing out of home care and teach peers how to support these students.

Using the Storytelling Project Curriculum created by Columbia University, students will learn about race and racism and consider how diverse stories can make a difference. Each student will share positive personal stories of living in Lawrence and redefine the media’s narrative on the Lawrence community through art, writing, and performance.

Ritmo en Accion youth leaders will collaborate with the music and theatre youth teams to adapt Afro-Latin folktales into a public performance to share with the community. Students will work with project scholar Dr. Lorna Rivera and other content specific experts to ensure the authenticity and relevance of the dance to the folktale’s culture of origin.

Students will perform original compositions along with accompanying visual and written components guided by the theme of “The Berkshires” in which students will explore a location, event, or feeling associated with living in the Berkshires.

Apprentices will create an exhibition at the Museum focusing on New Bedford’s first black photographer, James E. Reed. Students will explore who James was, learn about the history and business of photography and explore the history of the city of New Bedford through the eyes of the photographer. The final exhibition will showcase original work by the apprentices as well as provide access to materials in the Museum’s collection including the original cameras, backdrops and photographs of James E. Reed.

Five workshops taught by 10 current Art Reach student-artists with focuses on dry point etching, painting, color theory, writing and character development, and life drawing will be presented to the public over the weekend of May 12-13, 2018. This is an intergenerational project allowing Art Reach students to showcase lessons from PAAM and an opportunity for adults to learn from the younger generation. The project will provide income to student teachers for curriculum planning and teaching/co-teaching as well as a platform for creative leadership in the community.

Students will work with an artist to explore social justice issues and design a mural for the WYC building in a 7-week creative expression program. A culminating event will be held in which youth and the community will paint the mural over a recently demolished portion of the WYC building.

Students will have the opportunity to work in a studio to record chamber music which can be streamed online and visit WCATV to talk about the program and perform live on television. This project will bring classical music to populations who don’t normally hear or have access to it (i.e. nursing homes).

Hyde Square Task Force Youth Writes Musical for Boston’s Latin Quarter

A young woman and young man sing and hold hands facing one another outside on a sunny day. Image by Mark Saperstein.

Couple is singing and holding hands to the left of the frame, while a crowd of mostly standing onlookers watches their performance on the right side of the frame. Image by Jessica Guzman.This year for the first time ever, and with support from Mass Cultural Council’s Amplify grant, Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF) youth and staff undertook the immense challenge of co-writing and co-producing an original musical.

What came out of that process was El Barrio: Boston’s Latin Quarter, an interactive show featuring the stories of countless immigrants and hard working families that have contributed to the fabric of the community in the Hyde/Jackson Square neighborhood of Jamaica Plain.


“My name is Orlando and I’ll try to say it slow

Puerto Rican boy and my flow runs this show

Raised without a father, just me and my brother and my mother

who every day just keep getting stronger.”

Orlando is a is one of the lead character  and was played by Victor, one of HSTF’s youth dancers.

In a true show of Amplify’s  spirit, Victor and his peers from HSTF’s Ritmo en Acción Afro-Latin dance team co-choreographed original pieces for the musical, derived from bachata, merengue, salsa, and Latin-infused hip-hop. For the first time, Ritmo dancers collaborated extensively with their peers on the Music and Theater teams to produce this musical, using their neighborhood as a moving stage. Ritmo dancers, working with Program Coordinator Audrey Guerrero and Resident Artist Angeline Egea, choreographed steps to original songs written and performed by youth musicians, and followed stage direction and cues from youth on the Theater team.

Young man singing in Hyde Square Task Force's El Barrio! musical. Photo by Jessica Guzman.Hundreds of community members took part in matinee and evening performances, traveling through the show with performers. Through dance and through the arts, this young group shared the history of their community, while growing outside of their primary artistic disciplines and leading this exuberant demonstration of the power of creative youth development. HSTF youth and staff eagerly await the next opportunity to showcase the stories, values, and potential that defines their community.

See more photos from El Barrio: Boston’s Latin Quarter Musical.

Youth Mentor Brings the SOUL

Artwork by Nic Bennett

Express Yourself mentor, Nic Bennett, has been hard at work completing his large scale exhibition funded by an Amplify Grant from the Mass Cultural Council.

Nic is an Express Yourself participant of 16 years and a long-time youth mentor –  the longest running participant in Express Yourself history. He is leading youth and junior mentors in creating two large panels inspired by the theme SOUL to be displayed outside Express Yourself’s studio. Using quilting patterns and a specific color palette, Nic designed a modular project to be individually painted by youth and then assembled into the final piece.

His project fosters youth leadership within the studio setting and brings public art to the Cummings Center in Beverly, MA. The exhibition will be presented during a studio reception and will be on full display in the Cummings Center after the show at the Boch Center Wang Theater on May 25.

This article originally appeared on Express Yourself’s site.

Youth Voice Amplified at State House Celebration

Last month, we gathered young people, educators, and leaders from creative youth development programs, and their legislators at the State House to celebrate our Amplify grant recipients.

Now in its second year, Amplify has funded 27 projects designed and executed by young people in programs currently supported by our YouthReach and SerHacer programs. The grants support the creation of work by young people in the arts, sciences, or humanities that demonstrates the capacity they have to be visible and audible participants in developing safe and thriving communities throughout the Commonwealth.​

A young filmmaker from the Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Xavier Harvey, described the experience of being an Amplify grantee as “innovation, inspiration, and motivation”:

Amplify grant recipient Boston City Singers shared their voice:

And Marquis Victor, President and Executive Director of Elevated Thought in Lawrence, spoke with passion and poetry.

Legislators were on hand to congratulate the youth leaders, including Senator Adam Hinds, Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development.

“I’m so glad that you are stepping up in helping your communities, and I want you to know that in this building you’ve got a bunch of people who are going to get your back, and make sure that you can keep doing that,” he said.

Amplify Grants Awarded to 15 Youth-Led Community Projects

Youth leaders with Elevated Thought in Lawrence, MA





This year, 15 Amplify grants totaling $15,000 have been awarded to projects designed and executed by young people in programs receiving YouthReach or SerHacer funding. (See last year’s recipients, too.)

Amplify shines a spotlight on the contributions these young people make to their communities by supporting them directly in creating and publicly sharing their work.

Amplify projects include:

To present a documentary film showcasing Massachusetts Department of Youth Services youth artists and the creative process behind their work.

To offer a glass blowing arts program exclusively to teenage boys ages 13 – 18 which will provide the opportunity to design, construct, market, and sell hand-blown glass art.

The Tour Choir Youth Leadership Team will host and perform a concert dedicated to raising funds and awareness to the ongoing refugee crisis and immigration policy reform as it relates to Dorchester while celebrating the diversity of the community.

To present “This is Where I’m From”, a second installment of short films focused on promoting a positive narrative of Lawrence, MA. A panel discussion aims to change views on the city, highlighting the beauty of a community often overshadowed by tales of crime and poverty.

Assisted by youth participants, Nick Bennett will create two 5’ x 5′ panels to reflect Express Yourself’s 2017 “SOUL” theme based on character brainstorming sessions.

Express Yourself youth will learn basic origami folding technique to create modular pieces for a large outdoor installation bringing art to the public and business community while highlighting their artistic voices.

Ritmo en Acción’s Afro-Latin Music and Theatre Arts mastery teams will collaborate to create an original musical about the unique Boston Latin Quarter community.

Musica Franklin’s Project Helpful will create bus signs for six routes in Greenfield, Sunderland, Montague, Northampton, and Charlemont to raise awareness about bullying, how to respond, and how to prevent it.

Youth-led, bi-weekly science themed workshops will offer hands-on activities, a short talk from a guest speaker and a visit to relevant exhibits within the Museum. Post activities, participants will draw and interpret what they saw during their experiments.

Published youth author Andrine Pierresaint will host a monthly series of creative writing workshops for a group of pre-teens at the Mystic Learning Center. Workshops will culminate with an anthology of the participants’ work.

To create an information pamphlet about mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline in support of the stories and scenes in the show “Tenderness”. The hope is for the pamphlet to be a study guide for high school groups who’ve seen the show and serve as a catalyst for conversations around the topic of mass incarceration.

An hour long performance about the artistic struggle of female artists from India, Cuba, South Africa, and West Africa and the historical and cultural contexts of their lives. Performances will incorporate interviews, creative writing, music, and dance from each culture.

Multidisciplinary art projects (short videos, poems, animations, art) will be used to raise awareness about student-centered learning and its benefits to Latino youth and families in Boston.

Teens from the Neighborhood Strings Club will perform chamber music in three community locations (a women & children’s shelter, a senior center, and Union Station) and create a documentary of their experience and that of their audience.

YouthSpeaks! spoken word café series combines writing workshops (showcasing different themes and styles) with performances. The series encourages youth to explore social justice fundamentals through response to global, local, and individual events.