The Heritage Center Introduces “Raise Up”

A National Contest Encouraging Youth to Speak Out about Education and Drop Out Rates


Are you a young writer, poet or rapper?
Raise Up and make your voice heard!

The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School is partnering with Youth Speaks—the leading organization in spoken word education—to host a contest called “Raise Up.”  

The goal of “Raise Up” is to encourage youth from across the country to write original narratives about American education and high school drop out rates—and then to record them on video.

Contest winners will be recognized nationally for their writing—and earn a $5,000 education scholarship, a trip to Washington, DC to perform at the Kennedy Center and the chance to have their poem or rap broadcast on National Public Radio.

Read below for Program Details, Prizes Submission Deadlines, Rules, and Information on Local Events

  • Deadline for Submission to Contests: May 20, 2014   
  • Celebratory Concert in Pine Ridge: May 31, 2014
  • Local workshops and filming events: Coming Soon!
Twice the Contests, Twice the Prizes, Twice the POWER!

The Heritage Center is also hosting a local South Dakota competition in conjunction with the national contest. The rules and regulations are the same, but the prizes and opportunities are different (see below). If you live in South Dakota you will automatically be entered in both competitions, just send your entry in and we'll do the rest. See below for details on how to submit!

Local Workshops and Filming

To kick off the contests, The Heritage Center will be hosting free poetry and spoken word workshops across the Pine Ridge Reservation for youth ages 15 to 22. Participants will have the chance to work one-on-one with educators and teaching artists—and draft their own written narrative about the state of education and drop out rates on the reservation.

Youth writers will then perform and record their narratives on video. Their video submissions will be shared with Youth Speaks and entered for a chance to win the national and local competition.

Workshop dates are being set now—for more information on how to join or how you can host a workshop at your facility contact Brandie Macdonald at The Heritage Center at 605/867-5491 or by email at Workshop dates and times will be posted and updated regularly.

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Program Details:

Raise Up is a spoken word, poetry, and hip-hop contest focusing on education and the high school dropout crisis. Raise Up is Youth Speaks’ national competition. The Heritage Center is partnering with Youth Speaks to provide support for local entries, a local Pine Ridge Reservation contest, and a local Raise Up Celebration Concert. We encourage youth to speak about successes, struggles, questions, stories related to graduation or dropping out, the current state of the education system and the dropout crisis happening within our communities.

Every year, over 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the United States alone. That’s a student every 26 seconds – or 7,000 a day. Native American students have a dropout rate that is twice the national average and the highest dropout rate of any US ethnic minority. Pine Ridge Indian Reservation’s dropout rate is 70%; this is compared to South Dakotas’ 15%, and the national being 11%.



  • Top 3 entries will win Google Chrome Books (laptops). 
  • Top 3 entries will get the opportunity to perform on KILI Radio and at the local Raise Up Celebration Concert on May 31st at The Heritage Center.
  • First 50 entries will receive a Swag Bag including a signed CD of guest performing artists featured at the Raise Up Celebration Concert held in Pine Ridge, SD.


  • $5,000 Educational Scholarship
  • A trip to Washington D.C to perform at the Kennedy Center.
  • Your work featured in an NPR Radio Series. 
Judging Criteria:
  • Clear, Articulate Message (via Rap, Poem, Spoken Word)
  • The artist has an original message about the topic
  • Video background noise is minimal. We want to hear you in this conversation.
  • Your use of words provide a descriptive picture of your subject matter (integration of similes and metaphors)
  • Providing supportive details, facts, and examples to enhance and/or back-up your message.
  • All work must be original and of your own creation. 

All entries will be submitted to the National Competition. Local competition prizes will be limited to South Dakota resident entries. The local competition will be judged by 5 qualified judges from around the country.

For more information about National Judging criteria please visit

Submission Guidelines:
  • Entries must be submitted as video files with the Poet or Rapper vocalizing their lines.
  • Film your video against a solid background (i.e. NO posters, street view, scenery, etc.) Don’t film anything other than a video of yourself performing your rap or poem.
  • All entries may not exceed three minutes.
  • NO music or sound effects other than your own voice.
  • Video MUST be uploaded to your own (or your school’s) YouTube account as a Private File & submitted by midnight on May, 20 2014
  • Contest is open to young people ages: 15 – 22.
  • Make sure your video has good lighting. We want to see you in this conversation.
  • Do your best to eliminate all background noise. If using a cell phone to record your video, put it on airplane mode. If using another camera to record, turn your cell phone off. Otherwise, your cell phone will interfere with the sound quality.
  • All work must be 100% original and about the theme. Plagiarism will not be tolerated.
  • Entries must fit within the theme: Education. Again, we encourage youth to speak about successes, struggles, questions, stories related to graduation or dropping out,
  • Email the YouTube link of your entry to: Brandie Macdonald, Museum Educator
  • Information to include in your email to Brandie: First and Last Name, Email, Phone Number, Address/City/State, School (if applicable), Age, Year of Birth, Title of entry.

For questions, assistance with entries, and/or more information about the contest contact: Brandie Macdonald 605-867-5491, or 

Your words have power. Join us, make a statement and “Raise Up!”