The National Youth Poet Laureate initiative was founded by Urban Word, an organization that provides free literary arts education and youth development programs in creative writing, spoken word poetry, playwriting, college prep, literature, and hip-hop. In 2008, Urban Word launched the nation’s first-ever Youth Poet Laureate program, in New York City, followed by the Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate program in 2014. Since then, Urban Word has launched Youth Poet Laureate programs in thirty-five additional cities across the country. In 2017, Urban Word and Youth Speaks teamed up with the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities to create the National Youth Spoken Word Ambassador program, the first government recognition program for young spoken word poets. The five spoken word ambassadors were chosen from a pool of youth poet laureates across the country based on their writing skills and their commitment to social justice and civic engagement; they were all finalists in the considerations for a national youth poet laureate.
In April of 2017, Amanda Gorman was named as the first ever National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States of America.
Amanda Gorman is the founder and executive director of One Pen One Page, a nonprofit that promotes literacy and leadership through creative writing workshops, and the Editor-in-Chief of the OPOP online literary magazine, which works to highlight and empower youthful voices through literal and visual international storytelling. She has served as the inaugural Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate, a United Nations youth delegate in New York City, an ANNpower Vital Voices fellow in Washington, D.C., and an ANNpower Vital Voices global delegate in London. She is an ambassador, speaker, editor, and leader of diversity initiatives at the online platform School of Doodle. Her work has been published in her book The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough, as well as The Wall Street Journal, Elle, and The Huffington Post, among other platforms.