AIYN is a network of peers. As such, our norms, guidelines, and expectations of each other are driven by our members.


AIYN is a network of peers. As such, our norms, guidelines, and expectations of each other are driven by our members. We are an open network in that we are always open to new members who share our collectively articulated values, approach, and principles. New members are brought in through a standardized series of peer interviews, a site visit, and exploratory partnership. All members have their own curriculum, disciplines, and pedagogy, while also supporting each others growth and the growth of the field. Membership has no fee, but does come with expectations of behavior in alignment with the following articulated principles:

1) We believe in investing in youth wellbeing, first and foremost.

2) We believe arts are uniquely positioned to strengthen young people, and create pathways for youth success, and catalyze systems change. Arts should be valued as foundational to investing in youth wellbeing.

3) We believe in collaboration as an effective strategy for large-scale systemic, cultural, and political change, and model partnership with each other and with others

For more details on these three principles, and expectations for potential members, please click here.


Actor's Gang

Member Since 2016

The Actors’ Gang presents new, unconventional and uncompromising plays and dynamic reinterpretations of the classics; restores the ancient sense of the stage as a shared sacred space; introduces theater to children and inspires them to find their own creative voices, and brings the freedom of self-expression to the incarcerated.

Our plays and programs create theatrical experiences that entertain, inspire, and engage active ongoing dialogue about our society, culture and the human condition. We hope to provoke new ideas and activism on a variety of issues including arts education, the school-to-prison pipeline, criminal justice reform, equality, and tolerance. The Education Department began in 2000 and continues to provide programs that are vital and unique empowering children and teens to discover, develop and share their individual creative voice within a community of peers. TAG Education Department (TAG-ED) provides free in-school, after-school and summer theatre programs for diverse youth populations in Los Angeles County. Since 2006, The Actors' Gang Prison Project (TAGPP) conducts seven-day intensive programs that transition into weekly peer-led classes managed by TAGPP. Currently, we program inside 13 of California state prisons on 15 yards. In 2016 we created the Reentry Program for recently incarcerated men and women coming home and the Youth Project for currently incarcerated juveniles. We envision the formerly justice involved community as the leaders of TAG Prison Project. The Actors' Gang Alumni Advocacy Project, a network for formerly incarcerated individuals who want to continue programming as they transition from prison to their community, launched in 2018 with a focus on placing individuals with lived experience at the helm of expanding our community-led support system.

Armory Center for the Arts

Founding Member

Armory Center for the Arts has been a national leader in contemporary art exhibitions and community arts education since 1989. The Armory believes that an understanding and appreciation of the arts is essential for a well-rounded human experience and a healthy civic community. Armory exhibitions inspire dialogue around visual culture and contemporary life, contribute to global discourses in contemporary art, and introduce contemporary visual art to Pasadena, Southern California, and beyond. At the core of the Armory's mission is a deep commitment to social justice through arts education. Every day, Armory Teaching artists transform lives and communities through the power of art. This includes year-round studio art classes for all ages at their Old Pasadena campus, plus hundreds of no-cost art classes at schools, parks, libraries, community centers, and juvenile detention facilities, both in Pasadena and throughout Southern California.


Member Since 2016

Vision: artworxLA, formerly The HeArt Project, envisions a world where all alternative high school students graduate from high school, thrive into adulthood, and propel all society with their unique creativity.

Mission: artworxLA combats the epidemic high school dropout crisis by engaging students in a long-term, sequential arts program offering a pursuable life path that inspires them to stay in school, evolve as unique individuals and flourish as creative adults.

We achieve this by:

  • Creatively educating alternative high school teenagers with sustained arts exposure and immersion
  • Connecting students to a network of peers, artists, cultural partners, higher education, creative industries, and supportive adults
  • Investing human and financial resources around ongoing, persistent student and alumni support

Our Mission: Introducing Career Development in Film, Television, Broadcasting, and Digital Content Creation to Youth ages 8-25

Our Vision: Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory (BHAC) advocates for the development of a new framework toward diversity in the creative arts, media, and technology fields—one that is socially and economically inclusive, and accurately reflects the City of Los Angeles in terms of ethnicity, gender, and age. The most effect way to do this, we understand, is by dismantling the many barriers to equal opportunities in the creative art economy industries, so that they, as well as those interested in pursuing such careers therein, can truly grow and thrive.

Dance for Healing

Member Since 2018

The Dance for Healing Project (DFH) is a joint initiative established by Jamie Carbetta, Director of Pony Box Dance Theatre and Renee Curry, and Renee Curry, Executive Director of Center for Empowerment of Families Inc., to addresses the urgent social emotional needs of youth and families who demonstrate physical and mental health symptoms related to trauma. The Dance for Healing Project provides therapeutic dance with continuum of care mentorship to encourage the sustainability of healthy coping skills related to crisis experiences.

The Dance for Healing project serves crisis affected populations in Los Angeles County detention facilities, group homes, JDRC schools and communities, and hospitals. As a trauma informed partnership, we aim to empower successful reentry so that the skills learned will reverberate back into the communities to enrich the lives and futures of generations. Art is a phenomenal language that everyone understands, and Dance for Healing Project aims to enrich more lives with healing and foundational health resources to foster more habits of wellness that everyone can relate to.

GMCLA sings for a future free from homophobia and all other discrimination. Through its concerts, school assemblies, and community efforts, GMCLA seeks to create musical experiences that strengthen its role as a leader among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and performing arts organizations, enrich its member-artists, support LGBT youth, challenge homophobia, and expose new communities to our message of equality.

GMCLA's Alive Music Project (AMP) brings a message of anti-bullying and acceptance through GMCLA members sharing stories, music, and experiences with the students.GMCLA members have found their own voices through singing music together. Through an inter-active presentation, AMP places students and members of the chorus together to share their experiences, and foster a safe space. As part of AMP, GMCLA works through AIYN to bring choral engagement, exposure to music and group singing to youth in the justice system in Los Angeles County.

InsideOut Writers

Founding Member (rejoined in 2018)

Since hosting its initial creative writing classes in 1996 InsideOUT Writers (IOW) has grasped and evolved an intimate understanding of the unique challenges, services, and opportunities required to reduce recidivism among formerly incarcerated 12 to 18-year-olds within the world’s largest juvenile justice system. IOW’s reentry services and strategic partnerships pave an avenue of supportive, yet self-directed, action leveraging tools for pro-social means of self-expression, self-reflection, and grounded inter-group communication. Through writing, IOW participants are both incentivized and empowered to re-route their lives by shifting their mindset.

In 2009 IOW created our Alumni Program. Since the program’s inception, IOW has held five essential components focused on intervention and support services that assess, prevent, and intervene high-risk behavior by formerly incarcerated teenagers and young adults. All program elements feed into the larger mission of continuing to provide pro-social activities as a route to reaching youth.

Jail Guitar Doors

Member Since 2016

Jail Guitar Doors (JGD) works toward a more fair and just America. We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization providing musical instruments and mentorship to help rehabilitate prisoners through the transformative power of music.

Using the medium of collaborative music and songwriting for everyone, we strive to achieve measurable rehabilitative outcomes. We seek to advance new solutions to diminish prison violence and recidivism. We support organizations that engage in policy reform efforts and partner with social service groups to help people in prison successfully rejoin the outside world. And we actively work to educate leaders and decision-makers on how to bring real reform to the criminal justice system.

JGD has two realms of activity. First, we provide instruments for prisons, jails and youth detention centers nationally for either starting a music program or to enhance an already existing program. Second, we provide Songwriting Programs that help incarcerated individuals explore and navigate deep and complex emotions in a creative way.

JGD has been in existence since 2009 and was created by the musicians Billy Bragg and Wayne Kramer and Margaret Saadi-Kramer. JGD currently has instruments in over 130 institutions nationwide, and Songwriting Programs throughout the Southern California region.

Rhythm Arts Alliance

Founding Member

RAA empowers at-risk and high-risk youth from diverse communities through the rich experience of indigenous art forms to process trauma and emotional discord while gaining an understanding of the cultural roots of American society. Through healing cultural arts, movement, music, and rhythmic traditions, RAA provides safe and inspiring spaces for youth to develop a deeper level of insight as they grow within a community involved in meaningful music making.

RAA was birthed in 2008 at the Kilpatrick juvenile detention camp in Los Angeles County as part of RAA co-founder Xavier Eikerenkoetter’s Masters thesis in Child and Family Psychology. Out of this experience, Xavier and Peter Walden (current executive director) decided to build a drumming program for incarcerated youth that merged the rich West African drum tradition with talking circle technique with the goal of creating safe spaces for young people to express themselves in a unique creative environment.

Today, RAA continues to bring indigenous drumming dance, music production and talking circle technique to incarcerated youth, teens, and communities throughout Los Angeles County.

Street Poets

Founding Member

Street Poets Inc. empowers youth and young adults to write, speak, feel and heal on the page, stage and beyond, opening creating pathways to Purpose for our next generation of artists, writers, healers and dreamers. Informed by 20+ years of youth mentoring, workshop facilitation and consulting experience in the schools, probation facilities and streets of Los Angeles and beyond, Street Poets is a highly collaborative non-profit organization dedicated to the creative process as a force for personal and cultural change.

While based in L.A., Street Poets has performed and facilitated trainings, workshops and retreats both nationally and internationally from Sweden, England, Kenya and Hungary to the San Carlos Apache and Navajo Reservations in Arizona.

The mission of The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company, a nonprofit 501c3 organization, is to mentor, educate and enrich underserved youth through the creation of collaborative, original theatre. The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company’s vision is a world where all youth are given the opportunities and support they need to succeed.

Los Angeles is home to some of the highest rates of youth incarceration, high-school dropout, teen pregnancy, and gang violence in the nation. The Unusual Suspects identifies those neighborhoods, schools and regions most impacted communally and economically and helps to empower and transform the lives of youth and families within these communities. Actress Laura Leigh Hughes started The Unusual Suspects as a small program for foster youth after the L.A. Riots in 1993. It has now grown into intensive, in-school, after-school theatre workshops in multiple middle and high schools and juvenile detention centers as well as intergenerational theatre workshops and programs for residents in disadvantaged communities. In conjunction with county and state approved curriculum custom-developed in-house, The Unusual Suspects teaches youth to write, direct and perform their stories, uncensored and in their own voices. The outcomes for participants is lasting and life-changing, including fostering academic, social, and emotional growth, all through the theatre stage.

Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural

Member Since 2018

The mission of Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural is to transform community in the Northeast San Fernando Valley and beyond through ancestral knowledge, the arts, literacy and creative engagement.

Tia Chucha’s independent retail bookstore makes culturally diverse and relevant books and literary events accessible to a population hungry for this service. Aware of the positive social impact it can engender, the organization practices social engagement through our community dialogues, internship opportunities, and since 2005 also offers the only outdoor literacy festival for the greater San Fernando Valley--the annual Celebrating Words Festival: Written, Performed and Sung. Other projects include Tia Chucha Press, one of the country’s leading small cross-cultural presses that focuses on socially engaged poetry and literature; and Young Warriors, our arts-based inner-core focused youth empowerment program.


Member Since 2019

Versa-Style is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization and dance ensemble that consists of committed and conscientious artists representing the diversity and beautiful complexity of Los Angeles. We create highly energetic work that fuses dances that are culturally significant to our community. These forms include Hip-Hop styles such as 90s Hip-Hop, House, Popping, Locking, Whacking and Boogaloo, and Afro- Latin styles such as Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia and Afro-Cuban to name a few. As a reaction to the widespread media misrepresentation of these dance forms, Versa-Style specifically aims to perform for the youth of Los Angeles to instill the roots, history, and social and political issues surrounding the art of our generation. Hip-Hop breaks color lines by creating a forum where people come together for a common passion rather than grouping themselves by race or socio-economic backgrounds. Versa-Style demonstrates freedom of expression, freedom of individuality, hard work, self-discipline and dedication to the form.

Founded in 2001, WriteGirl is a creative writing and mentoring organization that promotes creativity, critical thinking and leadership skills to empower underserved teen girls. WriteGirl currently serves approximately 500 teens through programs across the Los Angeles region including boys and co-ed groups through its Bold Ink Writers program. WriteGirl / Bold Ink Writers programs offer teens the chance to work with mentors, using creative writing as a vehicle for self-expression and personal development. Workshops feature multi-sensory activities and are led by professional writers with backgrounds in diverse fields such as as screenwriting, songwriting, education, poetry, fiction and journalism. WriteGirl / Bold Ink Writers programs help young people cultivate their creative voices and develop the confidence and communication skills they need to attain academic and professional success. WriteGirl / Bold Ink Writers is proud to be a founding member of the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network (AIYN). For more information about WriteGirl / Bold Ink Writers, visit

AIYN member organizations represent the art disciplines of visual art, music, choral music, theatre, dance, creative writing, spoken word, and digital media. Among our members we have representation in every Supervisorial District in Los Angeles County.