History of YAS

Young Authors’ Studio (YAS) is a free program for youth writers (ages 10-18) that was founded in 2017 by Wendy Williams, Assistant Professor of English at ASU. YAS grew out of Dr. Williams’s research on youth songwriters and spoken word poets and her experience as a middle school and high school English teacher in Arizona.

YAS gives youth writers opportunities to build writing skills and confidence and to work with digital and multimodal forms of writing (i.e., songs, comics, spoken word poetry, short films, etc.). The program bridges the worlds of in- and out-of-school writing.

An important feature of YAS is the interaction (and intergenerational learning) that takes place between youth writers and college students, who serve as writing mentors in this program. The mentors earn three college credits through the ASU internship, ENG 484/584: Mentoring Youth Writers. They develop real-world skills as they build curriculum, promote the program, and communicate with youth writers.

The program has come a long way since it first started as a Saturday writing series at ASU’s Polytechnic campus. Today the program is offered online to reach youth across Arizona and beyond. In addition, this online format makes writing resources available to secondary teachers, homeschooling parents, and those who work with youth in communities.