Mateo Manuel Vela

University of Colorado Boulder - 2022

Increase access to arts education in low-income communities.

Project: My Puksta Project is working to increase access to arts education for low-income youth of color in Denver through providing access to culturally-competent spoken word poetry workshops and performance opportunities. This past summer, I applied and was accepted for a board position for the literary arts organization Sacred Voices, which hosts open mics for Black, Indigenous, and youth of color each month. I am currently helping them expand their board, host their open mics, and generate a long-term curriculum for BIPoC youth of color to be taught in middle/high schools.


Inspiration:  My personal experience as an alumni of Denver’s youth slam poetry team, Minor Disturbance, inspired me to choose my Puksta project. Spoken word has greatly impacted my life, and I feel it is important that students of color are able to engage this art form.


Future Plans for Project:  I hope to accomplish the following from my retreat: a more connected network of youth poets of color in Denver, a safe space for youth of color to articulate their experiences in the current political climate, and the opportunity for students to be connected to the community resources to hone their craft upon returning home.