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The Beat Within's mission is to provide incarcerated youth with consistent opportunity to share their ideas and life experiences in a safe space that encourages literacy, self-expression, some critical thinking skills, and healthy, supportive relationships with adults and their community. Outside of the juvenile justice system, The Beat Within partners with community organizations and individuals to bring resources to youth both inside and outside of detention. We are committed to being an effective bridge between youth who are locked up and the community that aims to support their progress towards a healthy, non-violent, and productive life.
The Beat Within was founded in San Francisco, (1996) when David Inocencio, former assistant director of Detention Diversion Advocacy Program, teamed up with Pacific News Service, a non-profit media/communications organization, to offer writing workshops to youth detained in S.F.'s Youth Guidance Center. The Beat printed its first publication following the murder of rapper Tupac Shakur when young people sought ways to publicize their intense feelings of loss. Originally, their work was printed in a 6-page magazine, which was brought back to them the following week. For some, it was the first positive recognition they ever received that they had a voice worthy of an audience.
Today, The Beat Within staff and volunteers hold weekly workshops in many California county juvenile halls: San Francisco, Marin, Alameda, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Monterey, and Fresno. The Beat workshop model is replicated in Maricopa Arizona, in San Bernalillo New Mexico, Miami Florida, and in our new satellite program in Washington DC. Each week, we serve up to 700 detained youth and our San Francisco office provides internships and social services to more than a dozen formerly detained youth. Today the full-fledged weekly magazine is at 60 pages.