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Hidden Gems: Meet Allison Caldwell of OutLoud

Today we’d like to introduce you to Allison Caldwell.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Growing up, I would never have imagined that I would work with young people, let alone teenagers. High school was the most difficult time in my life. I would never have guessed that I would find so much joy working with youth, but here I am. I’ve spent nearly twelve years learning from and working with young people, and co-founded my dream youth development organization, OutLoud, almost two years ago. OutLoud’s mission is to amplify youth voice and value young people as capable change-makers, artists, and storytellers. We work with youth from 29 zip codes in the Dallas area, bringing them together to create public art that speaks out about the issues that matter most to them.

Through this process, not only do we all learn so much from one another’s personal stories, but we also build such a deeply bonded community of young people that otherwise never would have crossed paths during high school. Art is the mechanism of OutLoud, but what we’re really doing is bridging divides, enhancing social and emotional growth, and making sure that our community witnesses the powerful wisdom of young people that so often goes overlooked. That is what the work is really about, and what I think I needed most when I was struggling in high school – to be heard.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
The road to where OutLoud is today has been challenging, but oh, so rewarding. My co-founder, Jeffery Moffitt, and I started the organization with little resources but a strong conviction in our vision to create spaces in our city for youth to connect and share their stories and wisdom with the community. We have been wearing so many different hats and learning to do every area of the work ourselves, from social media to fundraising. Before co-founding OutLoud, I worked at a large non-profit for ten years and was so accustomed to managing large teams or relying on other departments for support. Building something from the ground up has definitely challenged me in so many ways, but we’re so proud of how far we’ve come as an organization in just two years!

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about OutLoud?
OutLoud serves young people ages 14-18, with some special projects for 19-21-year-olds and teachers. All of our youth programming is FREE and we announce registration for open projects on our social media, as well as recruit through teachers and school counselors. Our “OutLoud Voices” program pairs diverse groups of young people from across the city with community artists to work together and create public art that shares what young people have to say about issues that are important to them. Some of our past exhibitions included photography, short film, projections, audio recordings, large-scale outdoor paintings, and site-specific, interactive installations. The youth always drive the process but learn technical skills from the community artists as they work together to execute their vision.

Young people who participate in “OutLoud Voices” are eligible to participate in our “Discovery Journeys” program, which is all about exploring new places, building community and connecting with nature. Past Discovery Journey trips have taken place in California, Oregon, and Washington. While this program has been on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic, we have big plans for 2021 and can’t wait to get outside and adventure with our young people again! OutLoud also partners with schools to design and build multi-sensory wellbeing rooms for students and/or teachers. We use projection mapping, meditation sequences, and biometric feedback tools to create dedicated self-care spaces that help manage stress in a school environment. We currently have wellbeing rooms at UNT Dallas and Uplift Hampton and are working on growing this area of our work.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Stephanie Drenka

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