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Keith M. Kelley at a performance by his After School Matters apprentices.

Keith M. Kelley has been conducting poetry, spoken word, and music workshops with youth and adults since 1991 for the Chicago Public Schools, Harold Washington Library Center, Mayor Daley’s Book Club Conference, and arts organizations such as Insight Arts, the Smart Museum, Shanti Foundation for Peace, Little Black Pearl Workshop, Gary Comer Youth Center, and the Chicago Children’s Museum. In 2001 Insight Arts presented Mr. Kelley with its Arts in Education award for providing “liberatory” arts education. Kelley is a certified Youth Development Practitioner.

Currently, Keith M. Kelley conducts the Spoken Word Academy @ Kelly Hall YMCA apprenticeship program for After School Matters in the West Humboldt Park community. After School Matters® is a non-profit organization that provides life-changing after-school and summer program opportunities to more than 15,000 Chicago high school teens each year. Kelley has lead professional development workshops on his “best practices” for this organization’s instructors at trainings and conferences. In 2017 he presented a workshop on “trauma-informed arts education” for the Illinois Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Response Collaborative conference. After School Matters included one of Keith’s exercises in a publication distributed to their instructors during their 2018 Instructors Forum at North Eastern Illinois University.

The Spoken Word Academy @ Kelly Hall YMCA apprenticeship is a training program for youth to develop creative writing and performance skills. Youth choose their own writing topics, featured artists, and event hosts, and they perform at community events and publish a collection of their original poetry. In the pre-apprenticeship program, teens have an opportunity to explore writing, spoken word, and performance poetry through skill building, field trips, and guest speakers. Participants gain an understanding of the pathways they can take with creative writing and performance, and start to develop their own poetic voices! Teens interested in applying to either program should apply online to After School Matters.

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