After 21 years of leading San Francisco's Youth Speaks, founder James Kass is stepping down as its executive director at the end of this year.
The group, which has outposts in ten countries helping kids find their voices through poetry, announced Thursday it was searching for Kass's replacement to "shepherd the next era of Youth Speaks."
When asked why he was leaving the organization he founded back in 1996, Kass said that he wanted to see how Youth Speaks evolved under new leadership.
Also, Kass said, "I'm turning 50. I'm not sure the 26-year-old me that started Youth Speaks would want 50-year-old me to still be running it."
Kass started Youth Speaks after taking graduate-level writing classes at San Francisco State and discovering there was little diversity among his classmates. He also found few programs where children could build an appreciation for writing, so Kass started Youth Speaks. The group initially worked with teenagers at schools and community centers around the Bay Area with their writing, be it essays, fiction or slam poetry. The organization's slogan was, "Because the next generation can speak for itself."