Spoken-word contest gives students the stage to discuss the dropout crisis

American Graduate and Youth Speaks, a nonprofit that focuses on empowering youth through creativity, hope to include more young people in conversations about high-school dropout rates with Raise Up, a hip-hop and spoken-word contest that will culminate with a performance this month at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and a radio special. The organizations paired up this spring to encourage teens to submit original raps and poems related to the high school dropout crisis. By June 30, Raise Up had received over 750 video submissions, many filmed with webcams and smartphones. Twelve finalists were chosen for the contest’s next round. From those, five entrants will be selected to perform their poems at the Kennedy Center Sept.