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. In april of 2018, Patricia Frazier was named the second National Youth Poet Laureate.