YPP Network Description

The MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) formed out of recognition that youth are critical to the future of democracy and that the digital age is introducing technological changes that are impacting how youth develop into informed, engaged, and effective actors.

  • El Paso Takes ‘A Step Towards Normalcy’

    by Denise Tejada

    Two days after one of the most gruesome shootings in modern American history left 22 dead and dozens injured at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, vigils took place throughout the city on Monday.

    YR Media’s Antonio Villaseñor-Baca is a student at the University of Texas, El Paso and was born and raised in the city. He attended three vigils last night and said being there felt “surreal yet comforting and familiar.”

    Villaseñor-Baca described his hometown as “one big happy family.” He sensed that feeling of community at the vigil at Armijo Park, in downtown El Paso.

    The vigil began with a live performance by the dance group Tlaneztica Danza Azteca followed by a silent procession to Casa Carmelita, a community collective run by local organizers. Some of those who gathered for the vigil were in tears, others stoic — and there were children there, too. “Seeing kids running around and everybody focused and mingling, it was a step towards normalcy, ” said Villaseñor-Baca.

    The Vigil in Armijo Park

    The post El Paso Takes ‘A Step Towards Normalcy’ appeared first on YR Media.

  • My Solution to Paying SF Rent: Working Graveyard

    by Youth Radio Interns

    My life has become a balancing act. I’m a full-time student and I work two jobs, one of which is a graveyard shift. But I never realized how working overnight would take its toll on me.

    After a full day of going to class and working at my day job, I’m ready to collapse in bed. But before I can close my eyes, my alarm clock goes off, and it’s time to get ready for my graveyard shift.

    I work the front desk of a hotel from 11 pm to 7 am. While this shift is only once a week, it’s enough to disrupt my sleep schedule and social life.

    I knock out as soon as I get home from work. So when my friends call me to hang out, I’m often saying no because I’m too tired to go. I’ve even missed a doctor’s appointment because I overslept.

    I live in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the world. A lot of desperate residents go to the extreme to live here.

    Under different circumstances, my main focus would be finishing college. Instead, I’m struggling to afford this city.

    As of this week, the author no longer works this graveyard shift.
    The post My Solution to Paying SF Rent: Working Graveyard appeared first on YR Media.

  • Philanthropy and the hand-off – what happens if government can’t scale social experiments?

    by Ethan

    My friend and (lucky for me) boss Joi Ito has an excellent essay in Wired which considers the challenges of measuring the impact of philanthropy. For Joi, one of the key problems is that social problems are complex, and the metrics we use to understand them too simple. Too often we’re measuring something that’s a proxy for something else – we can measure circulation levels at libraries as a proxy for their usage, but we’ll miss all the novel ways libraries are reaching communities through makerspaces, classrooms and public spaces. What we need are better ways of understanding and measuring the resilience and robustness of systems, not just simple proxies that measure growth or contraction.
    Joi’s meditation on measurement is consistent with his current intellectual interests: irreducible complexity and resisting reduction. And, like Joi, I’m obsessed with how philanthropy could do a better job at making progress on social challenges. I’ve done my own work around measuring impact with the Media Cloud platform, as my friend Anya Schiffrin and I explored in this article on measuring the impact of foundation funded journalism.
    But I came away from Joi’s article wondering if there wasn’t a major factor he missed: the disappearance of governments from the equation of social change. Joi works with some of the biggest and wealthiest players in American philanthropy – the Knight and MacArthur Foundations. I work with some of the others – the Open Society Foundation, the Ford Foundation. We’ve both been involved with helping invest enormous sums of money… and we’ve both learned that those sums aren’t so enormous when you put them up against massive social challenges, like addressing poverty through improved school quality. There are models that could work at scale – the model pioneered by Geoffrey Canada as the Harlem Children’s Zone starts working with children pre-birth, through parenting classes and follows students through high school and into college. But it’s depended on massive infusions of private investment, and when the Obama administration sought to replicate its success as “promise zones”, the project received only a small percentage of the funds the President sought for it, and its impacts are likely to be quite diffuse.
    It’s possible for philanthropists to fund experiments, even multi-decade experiments like Harlem Children’s Zone. But it’s unlikely that philanthropists can, or should, take responsibility for solving problems like intergenerational poverty in African American communities. At best, we ask phianthropists to enable and lift up promising experiments, in the hopes that governments could learn from those results and adopt best policies. But since the Reagan/Thatcher moment of the 1980s, we’ve expected less and less from our governments, and they’ve seemed less able partners to transform societies for the better. I’m increasingly worried that working with philanthropies – something I spend a great deal of my time doing – is missing the larger point. We need revolutionary change, where government becomes part of the solution again, not better metrics within philanthropy.
    In the spirit of the mid-2000s, Joi, I’m opening a blog conversation – do I have it right, or do you believe that philanthropy without handing ideas off to governments to scale? And if those governments aren’t there to receive these experiments, what are we spending our time on in philanthropy?

  • 5 Things You Missed in Music Business News

    by Money Maka

    Things are constantly changing in the music industry and it’s important to stay on top of trends and news updates, especially as an independent artist. We’ve got you covered with a weekly recap of the top stories you need to know.


    Although Spotify has 232 million active monthly users, they just surpassed 108 million in paid subscribers. Spotify’s growth is expected to continue as they project to have 125 million paid subscribers by year-end.


    After many attempts to get the festival off the ground and rolling, Woodstock 50 has finally been canceled. After experiencing many setbacks with major investors, venues, etc., festival co-founder Michael Lang wrote in a press release, “We are saddened that a series of unforeseen setbacks have made it impossible to put on the festival we imagined, with the great lineup we had booked, and the social engagement we were anticipating.”


    Lil Nas X has broken the record for the longest-running #1 single atop the Billboard Hot 100. His single, “Old Town Road” ft. Billy Ray Cyrus, has stayed #1 for a record-breaking 17 weeks surpassing Mariah Carey’s “One Sweet Day,” and Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito.”


    Chance the Rapper dropped his new project ‘The Big Day’ and has partnered with Lyft to give away free downloads of the album. The promotion ran from July 26th through the 29th, with riders and drivers receiving a notification through the app. Chance has always been a trendsetter when it comes to distributing music — in 2017 he was actually the first artist to receive a Grammy without selling physical copies of his music. According to a blog post on Lyft’s site, Chance stated, “I want as many people as possible to have access to my music.”


    In 1991 MTV renamed their VMA Video Vanguard Award the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award in order to celebrate the artist’s innovative visuals. However, due to claims which have resurfaced in HBO’s “Leaving Neverland” documentary, MTV is contemplating a change to the name of the award, who would present it and even considering getting rid of it altogether. Let’s see how this one plays out.
    The post 5 Things You Missed in Music Business News appeared first on YR Media.

  • ‘We Are Still Here’ YBCA X YR Media Event Recap

    by Yared Gebru

    On July 18th, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) featured YR Media artists, and their contributions to the “Suzanne Lacy: We Are Here” exhibit, in their monthly Third Thursday event. Visitors browsed the gallery while being treated to specially curated sets by YR Media-trained DJs and musicians Marcel Angelo, DJ Edel and Clay Xavier. YCBA hosted an intimate artist panel featuring producer and renaissance woman Jessica “Money Maka” Brown, and visual artist Rami KD. The two discussed their artwork, inspirations and how they started creating. The event was part of a larger legacy exhibit co-housed by YBCA and SF MOMA displaying the work of artists and activist Suzanne Lacy.

    The YBCA collab was special to me because I felt like it was my first big break. I’ve never been featured in a museum before. It made me feel kinda bougie — because who you know that’s 19 years old and in a museum in the Bay? It felt like I got a head start, you know? Something I can put on my resume, I appreciate YR Media for the alley-oop. Working on the exhibit was a rewarding experience, we had to think outside the box, then after about an hour of goofing off, we got the ball rolling and started wheat pasting posters in a cool way. I didn’t mind spending my Saturday working on the exhibit. The artist talk was the most entertaining part of the whole event because I just had to talk. You know, usually, people get nervous but I’m always ready to tell people about myself. Maybe that’s just the Leo in me (#LeoGang). Also, people always tell me I’m a character, but I’m just myself and that’s how I approached the artist talk. It came so naturally and I was able to make the crowd laugh, so I feel like I fulfilled my duty. I think the full designer fit helped as well as the coke white Air Forces, they give that little oomph to my persona.  – Jessica “Money Maka” Brown

    It felt good being a part of something unique. Being able to tell our perspective through music and graphic design was a very great experience for me. It felt good contributing to this group project because we were able to become closer as a community. This project allowed us to tell our stories to other communities as well and cover issues that others may not take as seriously as we do. Overall, I had fun being apart of this project, youth in the Bay Area don’t usually have outlets like the one YBCA have given us. They gave us a platform to utilize our voice and an empty canvas to paint our stories. Thanks, YBCA, for letting us be part of this project. – DJ Edel

    The post ‘We Are Still Here’ YBCA X YR Media Event Recap appeared first on YR Media.

  • Listen to Motionless In White’s Most Cohesive Album Yet, ‘Disguise’

    by Yared Gebru

    Metalcore band Motionless In White released their fifth album, “Disguise,” earlier this summer. This is their first release since 2017’s “Graveyard Shift.” This album contains some of the most personal material I’ve heard from Motionless In White. While MIW’s previous albums are collections of self-contained songs, the songs on this album embrace themes of nonconformity, misunderstanding, and emotional turmoil. 

    The album commences with the title track and lead single, “Disguise,” which sets the stylistic tone of the album. MIW effortlessly switch between screaming and the melodic hook, which has remained stuck in my head all week. The first four tracks are some of this album’s best songs. “Headache” particularly spoke to me. MIW navigate through self-doubt with a chaotic heaviness, which sounds like the feeling of talking yourself out of an anxiety attack (in a good way). “Disguise” and “<c0de>” tackle the theme of conformity and the effect it has on the psyche. “Thoughts & Prayers” discusses the role religion plays in how our society deals with tragedy. While it may not be unique, the fifth track “Legacy” is undeniably catchy and energetic. Even though I find the world to be oversaturated with power anthems, this one feels sincere and has more than enough energy to provide actual encouragement to the listener.

     “Undead Ahead 2: Tale Of The Midnight Ride” is the sequel to a song called “Undead Ahead” from Motionless In White’s album “Creatures.” A truly unique feature of MIW’s discography is their horror-themed songs with self-contained stories that span across their discography. The first half of the album is almost flawless, it isn’t until you get to the seventh song where things start to taper off. The seventh song, “Holding On To Smoke” tries hard to be emotional, but instead, it feels incomplete and sterile. The sparse instrumentation during the verses completely clashes with both the warped vocals and the guitar riff in the chorus and bridge. The song lacks a central theme, causing the lyrics to be contradictory and confusing. All the songs manage to portray vague and unexplained suffering, which I find extremely uninteresting. “Another Life” is an extremely sincere break-up song, the only love song on the album. Its emotional impact is only enhanced by the slower tempo and entirely clean vocal performance. “Broadcasting From Beyond The Grave: Death Inc” is a lively combination of a horror song and an empowerment anthem, which is an absolute delight. “Brand New Numb” would be the perfect closing track, it is a defiant expression of individuality and contempt for unrealistic standards. Unfortunately, the closing track is “Catharsis” which suffers from the same lack of cohesion and themes as “Holding On To Smoke.”

    Despite the two songs that didn’t do much for me (“Catharsis” and “Holding On To Smoke”) I adore the nine other songs on this project. It tackles the difficulties of mental health without being overly sad or preachy. The songs speak from a personal perspective that does not claim to have the answers but instead lets the listener know that their struggles are valid. Motionless In White’s sound has evolved into an elevated and unique version of its former self that I am excited to hear more of. The vocals have improved exponentially over the years. Stylistically, this album combines their classic sound with the Nu-Metal they explored in “Graveyard Shift.” While their influences are very audible, none of the songs on this album sound like imitations of other artists. The instrumentals are dynamic, combining heavy metalcore chugging with industrial and Nu-Metal beats and synths. Most of the songs on “Disguise” will find a permanent home in my playlists.

    The post Listen to Motionless In White’s Most Cohesive Album Yet, ‘Disguise’ appeared first on YR Media.

  • News Recap: Arctic on Fire! + Hawaii Protest + Dems Debate

    by Chaz H

    This week’s Democratic debate was icy, but unfortunately, parts of the Arctic are not (thanks, climate change!). Malachi recaps this week’s news. 
    The post News Recap: Arctic on Fire! + Hawaii Protest + Dems Debate appeared first on YR Media.

  • Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ is Billboard’s Longest-Running #1 Song Ever

    by Yared Gebru

    17 weeks later, Lil Nas X is still breaking records. His viral hit, “Old Town Road,” has remained in the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for 17 weeks and counting. The previous record was set at 16 weeks, a length of time only achieved by two other songs, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” featuring Justin Bieber, and “One Sweet Day” by Boyz II Men featuring Mariah Carey. Thanks to a string of viral moments on TikTok, Twitter and other social media platforms, “Old Town Road” has become the most frequently downloaded, bought and streamed song in the world. The viral fusion of country and trap music, featuring an obscure Nine Inch Nails sample, has infiltrated every corner of the internet and public consciousness. In addition to the infamous Billie Ray Cyrus remix that quickened Lil Nas X’s rise to stardom, he has three other remixes of the song — two of which came out in the last month. The hit song’s popularity has shown no signs of waning.

    Billboard Hot 100: #1(=) Old Town Road, @LilNasX & @billyraycyrus [21 weeks]. *record breaking seventeenth week at #1*— chart data (@chartdata) July 29, 2019
    The post Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ is Billboard’s Longest-Running #1 Song Ever appeared first on YR Media.

  • This Week’s Rotation: 5 Albums to Check Out

    by Yared Gebru

    A new week means a new list of albums to check out. This week we have the likes of Beyoncé, Maxo Kream, Willow and more. Beyonce comes correct with a well thought out concept album in support of the new Lion King movie, Houston’s Maxo Kream delivers his major-label debut while Willow shares her third studio album. Listen to our favorite tracks from the albums below! 

    Beyoncé – “The Lion King: The Gift”

    In collaboration with the release of the 2019 live-action reboot of “The Lion King,” Beyoncé, who stars as Nala in the film, curated a soundtrack inspired by the movie. Beyoncé made it a priority to work alongside African producers and artists, with talent ranging from South Africa, Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana. “The Gift” tells a story about “The Lion King” from beginning to end, intertwining well thought out skits that relate to the black experience, while also celebrating African music. Despite Beyoncé executively producing the album, she doesn’t try to hold the spotlight, as she’s only featured on four solo songs. The rest of the album features talented African diaspora artists, letting them shine for themselves. Similar to the movie, the album touches on key themes of resilience and determination. “The Lion King: The Gift” marks a cultural milestone, it celebrates the rise of Afro-music and it celebrates spiritual storytelling, music that connects to your soul regardless of language barriers. The true gift of the soundtrack is its ability to motivate and enrapture listeners everywhere.

    Songs to Check Out: “MOOD 4 EVA,” “BROWN SKIN GIRL,” “MY POWER”

    Freya Ridings – “Freya Ridings”

    Freya Ridings, a 25-year-old songwriter from London, makes a powerful debut with her self-titled album. Her single “Lost Without You” catapulted her to stardom in the UK and her striking and distinguished voice sets her apart from her pop counterparts. “Freya Ridings” is a powerful and soulful album that deals with heartbreak, loss and a longing for love. Ridings’s hauntingly beautiful voice lays comfortably over piano ballads and slow-tempo production, and there are occasional upbeat moments that show the singer’s range as a pop artist. Freya Ridings is on her way to solidifying herself as Britain’s next star in the making.

    Songs to Check Out: “Poison,” “Castles,” “Holy Water”

    Maxo Kream – “Brandon Banks”

    Houston rapper Maxo Kream is back with his major-label debut “Brandon Banks.” For Maxo, this album serves as an autobiography, chronicling the early life of “Brandon Banks,” on his block in Houston. Maxo uses his major-label debut to reflect on his life — from childhood to the man he is today. The title “Brandon Banks” pays homage to Maxo’s father, and the alias he used to run scams under, landing him in jail during the rapper’s childhood. His father is frequently addressed on the album and has a few spoken moments himself, but Maxo doesn’t forget to focus on other aspects that impacted his life, like poverty and his exposure to crime at a young age. The album features some of hip-hop’s finest, with Texas natives Megan Thee Stallion and Travis Scott, as well as memorable appearances from A$AP Ferg and ScHoolboy Q. This is an album you can’t afford to miss out on.

    Songs to Check Out: “The Relays,” “She Live,” “Brothers”

    Sabrina Carpenter – “Singular: Act II”

    Former Disney Channel actress Sabrina Carpenter has been making a name for herself outside of acting, having released five musical projects since landing her breakout role in “Girl Meets World.” Her fourth studio album “Singular: Act II” brings closure to its predecessor “Singular: Act I,” rounding out Carpenter’s journey in adulthood. Confidence, self-discovery, independence and persistence are running themes in Carpenter’s perfectly-delivered sassy and ostentatious lyrics. Although it’s primarily a pop album infused with slight elements of R&B, the singer showcases a tender moment on “Exhale,” addressing the anxiety and pressure she deals with as a young star in the limelight. Her voice shines like never before, as she shows that she can deliver lyrics with power and meaning but switch to light, angelic vocals when necessary. “Singular: Act II” represents all that’s good in pop music, and shows that Sabrina Carpenter is just getting started.

    Songs to Check Out: “Take Off All Your Cool,” “Tell Em,” “Looking at Me”

    Willow – “WILLOW”

    The 18-year-old star is back with her highly anticipated third studio album, “WILLOW.” It’s a dreamy, genre-defying project that shines a new light on the singer. Willow is brilliant at delivering music that feels breezy and mellow, expertly cloaking listeners in an otherworldly blanket, guiding them to uncharted territory. At eight songs, and a run-time length of 23 minutes, “WILLOW” is short and sweet — that’s what makes it so great. The young singer gracefully keeps her music vivid and intriguing throughout. Although Willow hails from a family of stars, “WILLOW” certifies the singer as a star in her own right. It also provides a glimpse at what the voice of the next generation sounds like. 

    Songs to Check Out: “Time Machine,” “PrettyGirlz,” “U KNOW”
    The post This Week’s Rotation: 5 Albums to Check Out appeared first on YR Media.

  • YR Media and MIT Challenged Teens to Make Apps. Meet the Winners!

    by Youth Radio Interns

    Growing up with instant access to information is convenient but comes at a cost. Misinformation spreads easily and quickly. With the rise of fake news and infiltration of bots across social media, we need a new kind of media literacy.

    Luckily, we know some young people who are creating just that, and fittingly, they’re using phones to do it.

    Three years ago, the National Science Foundation backed YR Media and MIT App Inventor to launch the Youth Mobile Power project. Our goal? To help young people across the U.S. make technology that makes a difference, and to share their stories.

    Next month, we’ll officially announce the winners of our Youth Mobile Power App Challenge. More than 30 teams of young people used YR Media stories to scout for issues they’d address with apps they made from scratch. Contestants built their apps using a tool called App Inventor that MIT developed to give everyone access to the power of mobile computing.

    YR Media’s Adan Berrera talked with the winners about their apps. The two projects that got top marks are both designed to help peers see through digital deception and stay informed. High School Division winners Madison Maynard and Cassidy Everett created “How to Handle Your Bully,” which offers tips on what to do when you encounter bullies online and helps you differentiate between a real cyberbully and a bot. Middle School Division winner Kaitlyn Tait produced “Politica,” an app that educates young people on the basics of politics.

    The interviews have been edited for clarity and length.

    App: How to Handle Your Bully

    Adan Barrera: Why did you pick the article, “Bot or Bully?”, to base your app on?

    Madison Maynard: Well, that [article] really caught our attention. We are online a lot. So [we were] thinking of the bullying that goes on online. And then we could connect it to bullying in real life too. Just [knowing] kids being bullied in school — it could help them out [to] be able to tell whether they are bullied online by a real person or not.

    AB: How did you begin developing the app?

    Cassidy Everett: A big inspiration for us was a website called, “Safe2Say Something.” If [someone is getting bullied] and they don’t know who to tell, they could email in a tip or call in through the website. If it was happening in school, the website would notify the principal and teachers. If the situation is more dangerous, then they would connect to the police. We thought that was really cool, so we had that in mind when we were doing our app. 

    AB: Can you walk me through how the app works?

    CE: The app starts with asking if the bullying is happening online or in person. And if it’s online, the app asks the user questions to determine whether it’s a real-life person or an online bot that’s the bully. [Then] the app gives ideas on how to deal with someone who might be a bully. It provides advice based on the user’s responses to the question. It keeps asking questions until it knows enough about the situation. Once it gets enough information, it will provide recommendations on how to deal with the situation. And everything ends with a web page — a resource that can help you more if they’re still a little confused about what to do. 

    A: What technology is used to be able to distinguish a cyberbully from a bot?

    CE: So if it was a person that posts an inhumane amount of times, that’s going to be a bot. A real person would target specific groups of people that you know or would say things that people wouldn’t know unless they were real. 

    A: What was something you learned during this project? It could be technical or something about yourself.

    MM: There is a way to help. Even if our app was implemented it would probably be to a small audience, but if there was just one person that our app helps, then we would have had an impact. And I think it’s important for young people to realize that they can make a difference in situations like that.

    App: Politica

    Adan Barrera: Why did you pick the article “Ready to Vote?” What were some of your initial ideas for your app?

    Kaitlyn Tait: I used to live in Northern Virginia where my dad and I would visit D.C. a lot, so I was exposed to the Pentagon and the Capitol from a young age. I figured that it would be cool to make an app based off of the government.

    AB: Was there any particular audience you intended to make this app for?

    KT: So I wanted to keep it at a level that the average elementary schooler could understand. When I was in elementary school we didn’t spend very much time discussing how the government runs. 

    AB: Could you walk me through how your app works?

    KT: You open up the app and you’ve got a quick paragraph and the logo and then you’ve got five categories: political parties, the president, how laws are passed, different political positions and government contacts. You go on and there is some basic information and then you can choose to go into more depth or you can take a quiz.

    AB: Why did you find it important to add quizzes to your app?

    KT: Well I did some research and according to Maxwell University professors and other university professors, they proved that [quizzes] helped people retain the knowledge that they learned.

    AB: Is your app meant to stay relevant for many years or is it specific to a certain time period of politics?

    KT:  Well I figured that I would want it to be relevant for the next few years because it wasn’t focusing on current people who are holding office. It’s focusing on the system itself. 

    AB: What did you learn during this project?

    KT: Well I did learn more stuff about the political system. I also learned how to do different formats of quizzes. Each of the quizzes in my app are coded differently and have a different appearance. So it has fill-in-the-blank quizzes, quizzes where you click buttons and true or false as well.
    The post YR Media and MIT Challenged Teens to Make Apps. Meet the Winners! appeared first on YR Media.