2016 Fundraiser: We depend on donations from our community to create a safe place for poetry online. This is the one time of year we ask, so thank you for considering a small donation to support our great work. Learn more about our story

Support the To Be Heard Foundation

On April 20, 2016, Roland Legiardi-Laura, a documentary filmmaker, poet, educator and founder of Power Poetry passed away. The following is a brief message from him about the mission and vision of the To Be Heard Foundation that will be carrying on his work:

Donate to support future poets

The Foundation

The To Be Heard Foundation was founded to empower youth through mastery of literacy. We define the four components of literacy as: Reading, Writing, Public Speaking, and Active Listening. Toward this end we have two programs: Power Writers and Power Poetry.

Power Writers

A boots-on-the-ground program, started in 2002. Power Writers has directly served more than:
  • 1000 high school students.
  • Over 90% have graduated HS
  • 85% have gone on to college.
  • Of this group who entered college 99% have either graduated or are currently on the path to graduation.
  • In addition, our students have won nearly $3 million in scholarships (including 11 posse scholarships and a Peabody award.)
  • Among the colleges our students have attended are: Brandeis, Sarah Lawrence, Bard, Wheaton, Hampshire, Lafayette, Lehman, Morris, Hunter and graduate schools such as University of Arizona and Princeton.

Power Poetry

Launched in the spring of 2012, Power Poetry is the world’s largest mobile/online poetry community for youth. Power Poetry provides its young writers the opportunity to share their work globally, participate in scholarship slams, and take advantage of our resource guides, poetry glossary, and writing tip guides.
  • Over a quarter million registered poets and poems from all 50 states and 175 countries.
  • Over 19 scholarships awarded to young poets to date.
  • Over 200k monthly active users turn to the site as a resource.
Both programs are designed to build language mastery through creative expression and self-awareness. For details about growth plans and budgets please contact help@powerpoetry.org.

Roland Legiardi-Laura

On April 20, 2016, Roland Legiardi-Laura, a documentary filmmaker, poet, educator and founder passed away from a protracted battle with cancer. Roland founded the To Be Heard Foundation to carry on the work he began with Power Writers and Power Poetry. He was an artist, writer-in-residence at University Heights High School,a poet, filmmaker, and long-time director of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, where the slam poetry phenomenon originated. At the Nuyorican, he was also founder and director of the highly successful Fifth Night Screenplay Reading and Short Film Series. In 2010 Roland Co-Directed/Produced TO BE HEARD, an award-winning documentary for PBS. His documentary film, Azul, a study of Nicaragua’s people and history through their poetry, won nine international film awards and three ACE nominations. His poetry has been widely published and anthologized. He founded Words to Go and P.O.E.T., America’s first traveling troupes of performance poets. He has been a nominator for the Rockefeller Media Arts Program and has served as a member of the Board of Governors of the New York Foundation for the Arts. His current documentary film project is a three part series, entitled The Fourth Purpose: The Enigma of Public School. Roland, with Joe Ubiles and Amy Sultan, co-created the model for the Power Writers Program.