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MassLEAP (Massachusetts Literary Education and Performance)

 549 Columbus Avenue
 Boston, MA 02118
[P] (508) 4506952
[F] --
Alex Charalambides
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 81-1668473

LAST UPDATED: 02/01/2019
Organization DBA Mass LEAP Inc.
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No



Mission StatementMORE »

Massachusetts Literary Education and Performance (Mass LEAP) is dedicated to building and supporting spaces for youth to experience the transformative power of their own voices in community with one another. We exist as a platform for young people, artist-educators and organizers to foster positive youth development through spoken word poetry forums. We facilitate arts learning spaces and build relationships among communities throughout Massachusetts.

Mission Statement

Massachusetts Literary Education and Performance (Mass LEAP) is dedicated to building and supporting spaces for youth to experience the transformative power of their own voices in community with one another. We exist as a platform for young people, artist-educators and organizers to foster positive youth development through spoken word poetry forums. We facilitate arts learning spaces and build relationships among communities throughout Massachusetts.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2019 to Dec 31, 2019
Projected Income $145,000.00
Projected Expense $133,000.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Louder than a Bomb Massachusetts Youth Poetry Slam Festival
  • Youth Spoken Word Leaders Program

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

Massachusetts Literary Education and Performance (Mass LEAP) is dedicated to building and supporting spaces for youth to experience the transformative power of their own voices in community with one another. We exist as a platform for young people, artist-educators and organizers to foster positive youth development through spoken word poetry forums. We facilitate arts learning spaces and build relationships among communities throughout Massachusetts.

Background Statement

Massachusetts Literary Education and Performance (MassLEAP) began as a collective, created around Anna West’s kitchen table in February, 2011. Anna, former director of Young Chicago Authors, while pursuing a graduate degree in Boston, reached out to community members known for their organizing and education work in the youth spoken word (YSW) field. Two of these members included Amanda Torres and Alex Charalambides. Our first goal as a collective was to bring people who had similar goals into the same room. We had our first network summit several months later with over 80 poets, artists, organizers & educators in the room. Soon after, MassPoetry became our fiscal sponsor and developed a Program Director position for Amanda Torres which supported her continued coordination of MassLEAP.

Using a collective organizational approach, Mass LEAP sought to develop various youth arts opportunities across Massachusetts with a focus on transforming the educational landscape through the integration of YSW practices. In order to serve young people, we needed to strengthen the skills of our teaching artist community. We responded to this need and developed the first YSW teaching artist learning cohort. This began MassLEAP’s year-long professional development and certification program for teaching artists. Eventually, this evolved into a partnership with the Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion Initiative as our year long professional development series integrated Boston Public School Teachers into the program. We currently have 4 full year residencies in BPS Schools.

The first Louder Than a Bomb MA Youth Poetry Slam Festival (LTABMA) took place in the Spring of 2012 with 14 participating teams. The next year it grew to twenty four, the next year to thirty two. Entering year seven, we have over fifty communities committed to participate. LTABMA continues to be a vital cultural institution.

MassLEAP separated from Mass Poetry in 2014 with that organization continuing to serve as fiscal agent. In 2015, we became part of the Brave New Voices Network, a national cohort of 16 youth spoken word organizations dedicated to pushing the field of spoken word poetry as youth development tool. 2016 saw the creation of our Executive Board, leading towards incorporation and designation as 501(3) Non-Profit in the Spring of 2017. MassLEAP is currently directed by co-founders Amanda Torres and Alex Charalambides along with many incredible interns, organizing teams and volunteers.

Impact Statement

One of our top accomplishments in the past year was the development & engagement of our initial executive board. Under the leadership of nationally recognized sociologist, poet & thought leader, Dr. Eve Ewing, our board has been instrumental in guiding MassLEAP from collective to functioning non profit organization. We’re especially thrilled to have two 18 year old alumni serving as fully vested voting members, maintaining a youth centered focus on our work.

MassLEAP was also thrilled to send a team of 5 youth poets to the annual Brave New Voices International Youth Festival. The team advanced to the finals, taking 2nd place to a 3,200 audience at the San Francisco Opera House. A great deal of this success was due to the dedication of new staff member, Porsha Olayiwola and LTABMA alumni Jonathan Mendoza (both accomplished national poetry slam champions in their own right).

Lastly, a major accomplishment for MassLEAP has been the development of a Youth Spoken Word Leaders Program, in partnership with House Slam, If You Feel It Mic Movement and Books of Hope, this unique program trains, mentors & provides paid internships for 5 Boston teens to create and manage their own open mic & workshop series, serving hundreds of their peers.

Our top goals in the coming year, include doubling our incredibly modest organizational budget through foundation & donor support to further solidify & support a full time staff, with an eye on hiring an experienced Executive Director in the future. We seek to increase the number of short and long term residencies outside of Boston. We also dream of expanding the youth leaders program to other Massachusetts Cities and are looking for partners in Worcester, Lowell and Springfield.

Needs Statement

FUNDING: We are seeking major increases in Foundation Funding (from $50,000 to $100,00) and individual giving (from $25,000 to $50,000).

STAFF: For 2018, Mass LEAP will operate with two part time staff members and a few stipended project managers. It is critical for Mass LEAP to increase revenues in order to upgrade part time staff to full time, along with hiring at least one additional full time staff member.

SPACE: We currently share space in a cooperative in the South End called Makeshift Boston. While a good first step, increased access to open and safe spaces, will allow us more flexibility for programming, as well as greater organizational visibility.

FINANCES: Transitioning into our own non-profit designation will require increased proficiency in accounting, operations and legal assistance. We would benefit greatly from either training opportunities for our staff to gain skills, or resources to hire professionals to serve these roles.

PROGRAMS: We have excellent models for professional development and paid youth internships. Increased funding would allow us to train more teachers, teaching artists and youth leaders to serve their students and peers, especially outside of Boston.

CEO Statement

As co-founder & Managing Director of MassLEAP, it has been an honor to see our organization grow from a community conversation into a full fledged non profit organization, helping to steward a state wide movement. In just 6 years, we've managed to serve thousands of teens, brilliant young minds who are engaging with each other and building a better future, where people come together to listen and learn from one another's stories.
As a former performance poet who didn't discover this art form until his mid-twenties, I can personally attest that most of the good things in my life have come from the decision to share my thoughts and dreams to a room full of strangers. The empowerment, human connection and articulation of purpose are all attributes that have stayed with me and continue to inform my life every time I see a young person take the stage to speak. 
What makes our organization and the field of youth spoken word poetry so vital, is that, while the art form itself is engaging, diverse & dynamic, it's not the art for art's sake that these young people focus on. The microphone is a entry point towards conversations. These safe, courageous spaces center youth voice in ways that just aren't happening elsewhere. People from all walks of life, backgrounds and beliefs are actively listening to one another, cheering & offering hugs, speaking their visions into reality. We're seeing the proliferation of empathy building, in real time. 
These are values that inform our organizational model, where leaders work to uplift voices that are too often marginalized and segregated. We are a reflective, using debriefs, retreats and meetings to check in with one another as humans, artists and members of a community. Before we began our work, there were only tiny pockets of responsible mentors working with youth across the state, who used spoken word poetry as a tool to increase critical thinking & social equity. Our organization became a response to a real need for a lighthouse to bring people together. The festival became that lighthouse. The exponentially growing number of educators, mentors and young people reaching out to us and each other now are testaments to that initial shared vision. 
While we find our way in navigating the business needed to serve more people (i.e. we're poets first, trying to build our organizational capacity skills), we remain grounded in our vision and continue to rely on the deep well of creativity and commitment from the young people in our community who wish to further define the lens through which they wish to be understood.  

Board Chair Statement

Our organization has experienced many successes in establishing effective governance thus far. Our board of directors recently reached our one-year anniversary and they represent thoughtful and active supporters from the arts, education, and philanthropic sectors. We also have young alumni representatives on our board, which ensures that we have programming insight from those closest to our mission. Board members have taken leadership in ensuring that there is financial accountability within the organization, hosting fundraising events, connecting us with new potential partners, and providing necessary in-kind services such as evaluation tool development. Our primary challenge is the need to diversify the board to include representatives from other sectors who are currently outside our social circle but could provide helpful support in donor cultivation, legal advice, and accounting services. In marking our first year as an assembled board, we completed a reflective self-assessment and board members determined that we would begin a modest recruitment effort. We hope to add 1-2 new members in 2018.
As board chair, I am honored to oversee this crucial early phase in MassLEAP's growth and development. As someone who was nurtured and encouraged to become a writer through my participation in teen poetry organizations, I understand the long-term value of the work we do.

Geographic Area Served

Our overall organizational vision includes movement building and support across the state of Massachusetts. We are based in Boston and in our first 5 years of existence, have concentrated most events and consistent programming in the greater Boston area. While our annual festival attracts communities from all parts of the state, and we've been able to provide workshops and residency programs to schools and youth organizations in various cities and towns, we feel that being grounded in Boston is the best strategy towards establishing our organization's capacity. As we grow, we look forward to new opportunities to serve schools and organizations, expand our network across the state.

Organization Categories

  1. Youth Development - Youth Development Programs
  2. Arts,Culture & Humanities - Performing Arts
  3. Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy - Alliances & Advocacy

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)

Under Development


Louder than a Bomb Massachusetts Youth Poetry Slam Festival

The Louder Than A Bomb Massachusetts Youth Poetry Slam Festival (LTABMA) aims to bring young people together across geographic, racial, cultural and socio-economic lines. LTABMA is a friendly competition that emphasizes self-expression and community via poetry, oral story-telling, and hip-hop spoken word. The festival includes a competition, free workshops, special presentations and professional development for coach-educators. Entering it's 7th year, the festival takes place each spring. Events have been supported by the Boston Cultural Council, ICA Boston, EMK Institute for the US Senate, along with several university partners.
Budget  $25,000.00
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Cultural Festivals
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years) Adolescents Only (13-19 years) Adolescents Only (13-19 years)
Program Short-Term Success 

Short term, success looks like 350 teens from 50 school & youth communities, statewide, who are fully participating in 6-8 days of community building events, including workshops, presentations & poetry slam competitions.

Increases in demographics that demonstrate social equity and centering of marginalized voices. (last year, 70% of participants were young women, 60% were people of color, 15% identified as LGBTQ.)

The growth & development of spoken word poetry clubs at schools and youth organizations across the state, as well as community events and networks that begin to develop independently in other areas of the state, that are not necessarily managed directly by our organization.

Young people will develop their awareness of different experiences as well as their sense of belonging to multiple communities.

Young people will demonstrate increased proficiency in public speaking, literacy, critical thinking and literature.

Educators will demonstrate increased proficiency in their teaching practice, using spoken word poetry as an entry way for conversations on social equity, liberation and social issues.

Program Long-Term Success 
More schools and systems that include liberatory, social justice, student centered, arts integrated learning experiences. 
More youth and communities who are empowered to create their own pathways to social equity. 
More youth who view art as a central part of everyday life. 
Increased levels of empathy, commitment to social change and activism, continuation of involvement with arts programming, personal practice and progressive values by festival alumni.  
Program Success Monitored By 
Demographic surveys. 
Self reflection surveys. 
Program evaluation surveys. 
Personal testimonials. 
Alumni surveys.  
Examples of Program Success 
92% of participants stay in high school and graduate. 
80% of participants continue their art practice after the festival. 
60% of alumni seek to stay active in their communities, mentoring others, or organizing to support a social cause. 
90% of participants denote personal growth, inspired to expand their awareness of social issues, feel increased empathy for people from different backgrounds. 
95% of educators feel empowered to approach challenging discussions on social issues with their students.  

Youth Spoken Word Leaders Program

The Youth Spoken Word Leaders program seeks to support the development of youth not only as artists but also as organizers and teachers. We work alongside young people and provide them with opportunities to develop their leadership skills and sustain a thriving youth arts culture in the city of Boston.
Youth Spoken Word Leaders receive stipends, training and mentorship in the planning and management of an ongoing open mic, workshop & youth poetry slam series, where the young people directly serve their peers.
Budget  $10,000.00
Category  Youth Development, General/Other Youth Leadership
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years) Adolescents Only (13-19 years) Adolescents Only (13-19 years)
Program Short-Term Success 
  • 5 teen leaders in annual cohort, 90% attendance rate, 100 hours in total programming
  • Convene 3 times per month from September to June, including annual orientation and debrief
  • Host two public events per month serving 10 - 100 youth monthly
    • Writing workshop: 10-20 served per month
    • Youth Open Mic: 30-80 served per month
Program Long-Term Success 
Young people gain skills, knowledge and confidence in leadership and community organizing. 
Young people gain skills, knowledge and confidence in writing and performing spoken word poetry.
Young people hone a lifelong craft to apply towards their personal interests and growth.
Young people build understanding of systems of oppression and the capacity to address the root causes of issues they face.
Young people form positive, caring relationships with peers and adults.
Young people gain self awareness and practice feedback / reflection as a means of personal growth and artistic development.  
Program Success Monitored By 
Self reflection surveys. 
Observational notes. 
Qualitative data on number of peer participants served.
Program evaluations. 
Testimonials from youth in program.  
Examples of Program Success 
100% of program participants report increased proficiency in managing arts events. 
100% of program participants report increased comfort in engaging their peers. 
100% of program participants report increased knowledge of team work and organizational principles. 
100% of program participant alumni continue to organize around issues important to them.  

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments



CEO/Executive Director Mr. Alex Charalambides
CEO Term Start May 2013
CEO Email
CEO Experience
2011-Present: Mass LEAP Collective Co-Founder, Teaching Artist, Festival Director
2013-Present: Mass LEAP Managing Director. Operations, development, programming. 
 2014-Present: Advanced Math & Science Academy (Marlboro) Speech & Debate Coach
2009-Present: Freelance Teaching Artist & Performer
2003-2011: Worcester Youth Poetry Slam. Founder & Executive Director. 
Co-CEO Amanda Torres
Co-CEO Term Start June 2015
Co-CEO Email
Co-CEO Experience
2011-Present: Mass LEAP. Co-Founder. Teaching Artist & Festival Co-Director.
2015-Present: Mass LEAP Artistic Director. Program Creation & Management.
2015-Present: Harvard Graduate School of Education. Teacher's Assistant
2013-2015: I.B.A. (Boston) Youth Program Director
2011-2013: Mass Poetry Outreach Project: Youth Program Coordinator. 

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
-- -- --


Award Awarding Organization Year
Youth Reach Grant Massachusetts Cultural Council 2019
Spark Grant Greater Worcester Community Foundation 2018
Brave New Voices National Network Initiative Youth Speaks 2015
BPS Arts Expansion Grant Ed Vestors --
Cultural Grant Boston Cultural Council --


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --



CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 0
Number of Part Time Staff 3
Number of Volunteers 15
Number of Contract Staff 3
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 1
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 2
Male: 1
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers --
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Under Development
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy --
State Charitable Solicitations Permit --
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions

Commercial General Liability

Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A


Board Chair Dr. Eve Ewing
Board Chair Company Affiliation Community Volunteer
Board Chair Term Sept 2016 - Sept 2018
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Ralph Bouquet Community Volunteer Voting
Kofi Dadzie Umass Boston Voting
Melissa Dognazzi Institute of Contemporary Art Boston Voting
Dr. Eve Ewing Community Volunteer Voting
Jessica Fei Community Volunteer Voting
Michelle Garcia Fresco Umass Lowell Voting
Justin Kang Community Volunteer Voting
Sofia Snow Community Volunteer Voting
Richard Weissbourd Community Volunteer Voting
Chaloea Williams Federal District Court / Massachusetts Voting
Jenny Xu Houghton Miflin Harcourt Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 3
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 2
Caucasian: 1
Hispanic/Latino: 2
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 4
Male: 4
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits --
Board Meeting Attendance % 100%
Written Board Selection Criteria Under Development
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Under Development
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 80%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 20%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees


CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2019 to Dec 31, 2019
Projected Income $145,000.00
Projected Expense $133,000.00
Form 990s --
Audit Documents --
IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Revenue $145,000 $93,093 $122,451
Total Expenses $133,000 $113,983 $108,653

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$66,000 $56,000 $79,000
Government Contributions $4,000 $4,000 $2,000
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local $4,000 $4,000 $2,000
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $20,000 $6,000 $6,451
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue $45,000 $22,093 $30,000
Investment Income, Net of Losses -- -- --
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events $10,000 $5,000 $5,000
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Program Expense $53,600 $55,483 $84,367
Administration Expense $77,400 $58,500 $24,286
Fundraising Expense $2,000 -- --
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.09 0.82 1.13
Program Expense/Total Expenses 40% 49% 78%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 2% 0% 0%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Assets $0 $0 $0
Current Assets $0 $0 $0
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Total Net Assets $0 $0 $0

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy Income Only
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund No
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities nan nan nan

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets nan% nan% nan%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

2017 is our first year of operations as an IRS designated 501(c)3 Non-Profit. While operating programs since 2012, all financials & reporting have fallen under the purview of our fiscal sponsor and agent, Mass Poetry. 

Foundation Comments

Massachusetts Literary Education and Performance (MassLEAP) received its own nonprofit status from the IRS in early 2017. Prior to that, MassLEAP was fiscally sponsored by the Massachusetts Poetry Outreach Project. As such, data in the charts and graphs above is per MassLEAP's records.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


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