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David Inocencio

The Beat Within
founder and director
San Francisco, California
The Beat Within was founded in San Francisco, (1996) when San Francisco native, David Inocencio, former assistant director of the Detention Diversion Advocacy Program, teamed up with Pacific News Service, a non-profit media/communications organization, to offer writing workshops to youth detained in San Francisco’s Juvenile Justice Center. The Beat printed its first publication following the murder of rapper Tupac Shakur, when young people sought ways to express their intense feelings of loss. Originally, their work was printed in a 6-page magazine, which was brought back to them the following week. For some, it was the first positive recognition they ever received that they had a voice worthy of an audience. For the next 15 years The Beat Within was a weekly publication of writing and art from inside juvenile hall and beyond. Today, as the program continues to grow and provide to more youth that ever before, the magazine is 70 pages and printed bi-weekly.

The Beat Within staff and volunteers serve over 5,000 youth annually through workshops operated across California county juvenile halls: San Francisco, Alameda, Sonoma, Sacramento, Marin, San Bernardino, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Riverside, San Diego and Los Angeles. Outside of California, Beat workshops occur in New Mexico, Hawaii, Oregon, Montana, Louisiana and in Washington, DC. The Beat Within also leads writing workshops with adults inside the San Francisco County Jail and every other Sunday inside San Quentin State Prison. Besides working with the incarcerated, The Beat Within brings it's award winning program to young people in the community, partnering with HOMEY, Huckleberry House/CARC, TAY Clinic, Independent Living Skills Program/First Place for Youth, Marin's Community School, EMERGE, Oakland Public Library/Teen Services, Young Women's Freedom Center, United Playaz, The Urban School, Jewish Community High School of The Bay, and University High School.

The Beat Within’s mission is to provide incarcerated youth with consistent opportunity to share their ideas and life experiences in a safe space that encourages literacy, self-expression, some critical thinking skills, and healthy, supportive relationships with adults and their community. Outside of the juvenile justice system, The Beat Within partners with community organizations and individuals to bring resources to youth both inside and outside of detention. We are committed to being an effective bridge between youth who are locked up and the community that aims to support their progress towards a healthy, non-violent, and productive life.