The Youth Art & Self-empowerment Project (YASP) was created in 2006 as an offshoot of a project of a series of jail-based art, poetry and music workshops run by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). When AFSC discontinued their workshops, YASP became an independent, youth-led and youth-staffed organization with a focus on building youth leadership in the movement to end mass incarceration. YASP was founded by four young people who had been prosecuted and incarcerated as adults, and one ally who had previously served as the coordinator for AFSC’s workshops with young people in Philadelphia’s adult jails.
Over the past sixteen years, YASP has provided ongoing, year-round creative arts workshops for youth under 18 in the Philadelphia adult jails and continued support and leadership development for youth who have come home from those jails. During that time, YASP has hired many young people who were previously incarcerated in the adult jails to assume leadership roles as primary decision-makers in the organization. Our other major accomplishment have included: