News and Events

Attendee Feedback on the 2014 SAYS Summit

  • “By now, I’m sure you’ve all received many thanks for your hard work in putting this event together over the last six years, to which I can only add my own humble compliments: Wellman Hall, the Quad, Freeborn Hall, and all of UC Davis for that matter was absolutely illuminated this past weekend by the fierce radiance of the SAYS Summit, for which I can only imagine tides of roaring applause from the individuals after whom the workshops of the event were named. And I do not mean this lightly; your work is historic; for bringing together young people of all backgrounds together, it creates a spectacular vision within the chronology of activism at UC Davis, within Sacramento, and within the various, transnational struggles to uplift consciousness worldwide. I had the chance to sit in on two workshops, and found myself impressed both by the leadership skills of the facilitators, as well as the maturity and intellectualism with which the students responded. Now, I want to know how I can take part. I recognize that organizations like SAYS are only possible through the contributions of each student, parent, volunteer, and every other member of the community who is willing to create a better world; I am here at Davis precisely because of the presence of such figures in my own life, and now I reflect their will, struggling to do justice to all the sacrifices they’ve made for me to get here. The road has been jagged. It has been cruel and unrelenting. And yet, in the matter of a few weeks, I will be the first of my family to graduate from a four-year university.” – UC Davis Undergraduate
  • “Hello, I got the great privilege of hearing you [Vajra Watson] speak and I truly thank you. In a matter of minutes your words already had me thinking and speaking differently. Personally, your words have motivated me. It is the end of the school year and my classes coincidentally are becoming harder as we get closer to transcripts. Each day I get closer to wanting to give up, but your words have given me an extra push and I refuse to give up. So in advance I want to thank you for contributing to my success.” – local high school student

Penny 4 Your Thoughts: Poet-Mentor Dre-T Founds Open Mic Program

Penny 4 Your Thoughts,” established by SAYS Poet-Mentor, Andre “Dre-T” Tillman, is an open mic, spoken-word program through Foreign Native. Held at Sol Collective in Sacramento on Sundays from 6:30-9:00 p.m., Penny 4 Your Thoughts shines light on personal knowledge and experience to create cultural awareness. The program is committed to enrich the poor and less-empowered through collaboration with different community leaders, activists, educators, artists, and other Sacramento locals.

Read more about Penny 4 Your Thoughts, Foreign Native, and watch their spoken word on their website:

Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (SAYS) on “The Mic is the Message” Radio Program

KDVS (90.3) - August 26, 2013

Content: Host MC Luhan interviews SAYS program managers and poet mentors about SAYS, the program’s community connections and the annual SAYS Summit and poetry slam hosted by the School of Education. Listen to the program.

SAYS Poet Mentor Dre-T Featured in Sacramento Press

February 2, 2012

Excerpt from “Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (And the World Listens)”

One day in high school, while on a field trip to Sac State for an African-American student leadership conference [Dre-T] stumbled upon a Sacramento Area Youth Speaks workshop. He was immediately hooked.

As the group of teens shouted their poems from every corner of the room in a guerilla poetry spectacle called Griots (which are an ancient West African tradition that S.A.Y.S has adopted) Tillman was captivated. “I’d always been hungry for knowledge,” he explained, “S.A.Y.S had the food for the thought I was starving for and they knew I was hungry.”

SAYS at Fern Bacon Middle School

The impact is real… Sometimes a testimonial is the only way to evaluate it!

On March 12, 2010, SAYS facilitated a school visit at Fern Bacon Middle School. With the multi-purpose room filled with every single student in the school, SAYS witnessed talent, support and a community. When asked, students from all over the room were excited to grab the mic. While the mic was in the hands of every young performer from Fern Bacon, their peers in the audience were highly supportive and encouraging. Sometimes just providing a space for the youth voice to be heard makes the work. However, we know that the process to reach the final product is the most important part of the SAYS approach to literacy. When the assembly was complete, SAYS facilitated a workshop. Before the workshop could begin, Fern Bacon students were piling into the room. Accommodating every student, the teachers highly encouraged their involvement. Fern Bacon was an amazing experience and transformed the SAYS staff. A couple days after the visit, Zenae Scott shared an email from Paul DeLong from Fern Bacon. He gave us permission to share the photo and his words. A testimonial that keeps SAYS inspired and motivated to continue to work hard!

Living Literacy: Professional Development for Teachers

Keynote Feature: Dr. Jeffrey Duncan-Andrade (read his bio)

Learning literacy is important to the development of our future leaders. Our greatest leaders are sitting in our classrooms, wondering if he or she will succeed in life. We do not want any of our students to fall through the cracks of disengagement or failure. If education is a human right, then we want to bring the humanity back into the class. When we can invest in the lives of our youth as the source of their literacy, we can revive their desire for education and create a living literacy. Research suggests that we can close the achievement gap in our schools when we can engage our students’ lives into the lessons.

As SAYS pioneers this movement throughout the Sacramento area, reviving literacy in the lives of our young people, a professional development opportunity on May 15, 2010 is offered to Teachers and Community-Based Educators at The Walter A. Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center, UC Davis from 8:30AM- 2PM. This PD fills up fast and costs $50 per person, so register now.

Teachers who are dedicated to creating successful students can benefit from SAYS programs. We invite districts, school administrators, teachers and students alike to join this literacy movement that promotes youth voices for social change. The movement starts with you! Come to the SAYS Summit, participate in the professional development program, and enjoy the SAYS SLAM FINALS. These are experiences that will transform lives.