Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (SAYS) is a social justice movement that transforms education.
Founded in 2008 at UC Davis by Dr. Vajra Watson, SAYS breaks the barriers of underachievement by elevating the voices of students as the authors of their own lives and agents of change. To accomplish our mission, we connect the community, university and schools through art, activism and academics.
In partnership with school districts and community-based organizations, SAYS offers evidence-based best practices for holistic school change by providing innovative pedagogical tools to educators to effectively close achievement and opportunity gaps. SAYS is a full-service literary arts program for both youth and adults.
"SAYS is part of the revolution that is occurring across our country to educate, inspire, and energize youth through arts and activism. This work is probably our best hope for motivating and supporting so many youth who have been disenfranchised and alienated by traditional schooling." —Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, Professor Emerita, University of Wisconsin-Madison, President, National Academy of Education
“SAYS has established itself as an effective and powerful medium for developing the literacy skills, in all its facets, of young people in the Sacramento area. For educators and students, SAYS has become an invaluable educational asset. I am proud to be a member of the SAYS Board.” —Dr. Pedro Noguera, Distinguished Professor of Education, UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies
“As a SAYS student in high school, I was given a safe space where I felt my voice mattered and was heard. That’s when I started to take my poetry seriously. The things we talked about and wrote about made me change my college interest and enroll at UC Davis as a freshman last year.” —Malissia B., UC Davis Student, Poet-Mentor Educator
“SAYS, under Dr. Watson’s visionary leadership, is doing some of the most impactful work with diverse and underserved youth that I know of in the country. I have learned a lot about effective, culturally responsive ways to increase achievement through my connections with SAYS, and I will continue to support this work wholeheartedly.” –Dr. Jabari Mahiri, Professor of Education, UC Berkeley, William and Mary Jane Brinton Family Chair in Urban Teaching