To Our Friends and Supporters…

While a person may be individually pious, such good will pale in the face… of not protesting against an emerging communal evil.”

~Rabbi Judah Loew

We at the Youth Exchange Project mourn the death of George Floyd at the hands of those very men sworn to protect him; to protect us all. We acknowledge that his murder is the latest manifestation in a long-standing pattern of systemic racism and oppression.

We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all the black, brown, and LGBTQ people of the world. We do not accept a society that continues to denigrate and eradicate people because of their differences. The Youth Exchange Project empowers students to identify and speak their own stories while hearing, seeing and performing the stories of others. We see your story, George Floyd, and vow that it, and the story of people like you will continue to be told. #BlackLivesMatter

SUMMER 2020 thoughts

We, here at Y.E.P., have been waiting to see what the spring brings to make an announcement about this summer’s program. As we, like everyone, debated what could happen, what might happen and how soon we will be able to move towards leaving our homes we began talking about alternative venues for this summer. Of course we (most of us are teachers during the year) brought up online options. At first I railed against it. The Youth Exchange Project is about making connections. How can we make connections without our model of long, intensive, days that are often highly physical? 

Impossible. That is NOT the vision. This is NOT our strong suit and experience. How can we connect without (breathing the same air/sharing the same oxygen) physical connection?

But then…as we, our students and colleagues get more and more comfortable in the zoom classroom a zooming intensive doesn’t seem impossible. In fact, a zoom intensive would allow other opportunities that our vision has always included. We envisioned a program which includes the Youth Exchange Project to work nationally and internationally. Perhaps this is the way we can start to cultivate those experiences. What if…. Y.E.P.International  is a thing?

So, in that vein, we are actively pursuing and weighing the options, obstacles, benefits and possibilities. Please keep checking back here to see how we are adapting (growing?) in the face of this global epidemic. We and our youths need this connection now more than ever. Lets see what we can do!

If you are reading this and think, Ah, I know an organization in my town (or across the world) that may be interested in combining efforts to give our teens the collaborative-creative-experience-of-a-lifetime please let us know.

You can contact Shawnna at:!

Stay safe. Be well.

Shawnna Pledger and all of us here at The Youth Exchange Project (International?)!

It’s 2020

We are continuing on this journey that is the Youth Exchange Project. We are starting workshops around town, writing grants, securing space and getting our ducks in a row. Unfortunately, Johnson C. Smith has lost their arts space and, in turn, so have we. Fortunately we are in negotiations to secure a fantastic space and partnership for this years’ amazing intensive. ~ ONWARD

Summer 2019 update

As the last days of school fly by we are looking forward to our intensive this year. We have had a glorious time doing the workshops around the city. We are hoping to plan even more workshops for next school year. Let us know if you’d like us to come to your school or organization. Before then, however, we will experience the intensive this year graciously hosted by Johnson C. Smith! Through the construction maze we go to our island of exploration and discovery. We are continuing to take space reservations for our two weeks this summer. Tell your tribes to register!

We are slowly revealing the amazing Teaching Artists who are working with us this summer. Check out our ‘about us’ page!

… And finally, we are planning our annual fundraiser to help us match the granted funds we were awarded from the Arts and Science Council. We’re looking at the weekend of June 29. Keep an eye out for an announcement and invitation!



Here it is!!!! Summer 2019

We are excited to announce that we are accepting applications for the 2019 summer Y.E.P. intensive!             ( 2019 summer space reservation)

Our dates are July 22-August 2 at Johnson C. Smith University’s Arts Factory at 100 Beatties Ford Rd in Charlotte. We are working with groups around the city to bring in a diverse network of teens for this summer experience. Together, we will devise theatre that changes the world.

This is the form to fill out to reserve your spot in project 2019:

 2019 summer space reservation

We have a limited number of spaces available so grab yours today! We will contact you with more information (and of course paperwork) after we have received your space reservation form. We are looking forward to a phenomenal summer!

Workshops Begin

We are gearing up for the summer of 2019! We have started venturing out into the community and holding workshops for local teens. Nicia and Shawnna went in this week to Time Out Youth and held the first of a trio of workshops to foster community and share some applied theatre techniques. The workshop was great fun and a grand success! We have some other organizations bringing us in as well. We are currently booking more local workshops though. Give us a shout out if you know of a group of teens who might be interested.

We are also looking for sponsors to help us with the matching portion of the grant we received for the 2019 project. The matching grant enables teens to participate in the project at a very low cost and still lets us take care of the needs of the program. Please let us know if you would like to sponsor or know of anyone who would! Onward!

Summer Dates and Applications

Our Dates at the amazing Johnson C. Smith University have been confirmed. YEP this year will take place from 9AM to 5PM Monday through Friday July16-27 with an evening public performance on the 27th! We are excited about the long days and intensive work getting to know and create with the YEP teens. Speaking of the YEP teens, if you or some teen you know is interesed in this work please look for the online applications we will roll out next week!

Also next week we share at the first annual  Arts and Advocacy Conference on Immigration. There we will share a bit of what we do and give folks the opportunity to share about themselves.  Remember, keep a look out for our applications to take part in this amazing two week intensive experience!

JCSU 2018!

We have exciting news! Through a glorious partnership the 2018 Y.E.Project will be held at Johnson C. Smith University. Not only do we get to be in the beautiful Arts Factory (check it out!) but we will have the amazing talent of some JCSU students as well. We are thrilled with this momentus collaboration. Stay tuned for a sneak peak at some of the very talented guest artists working with us this summer. 

Arts and Advocacy Conference

Shawnna Pledger and Nicia Carla are leading a breakout session during this conference. Come join us! 

Myers Park Baptist Church and the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice present:

Dream America: Immigration

First Annual Arts and Advocacy Conference Save the Date! Saturday, April 21, 2018 12:30 pm-8:00 pm

Join Myers Park Baptist Church and Queens University of Charlotte for informative presentations and sessions highlighting the use of the arts to advocate for immigrants.  From slam poetry to storytelling, film to photography, and dance to music, experts will be on hand to share their knowledge and tools. The event will culminate in a dramatic reading, followed by live music and food trucks, all celebrating the gifts our immigrant neighbors continue to bring to our community. A pre-conference interfaith service will also be held.


Partnering Organizations:  Myers Park Baptist Church, Charlotte Racial Justice Consortium – Johnson C. Smith University, Queens University of Charlotte, UNCC Center for the Study of the New South, the Light Factory, McColl Center for Art + Innovation, Youth Exchange Project, MeckMin, Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice, Levine Museum of the New South, Charlotte Women’s March.

Sponsorships are available. We welcome other partnering organizations. For more information, please contact Talia Goldman at and Caroline Manning at

Be on the lookout for registration forms, which will include detailed and time specific event information.

Sold Out Benefit Performance!

Abby Corrigan sings “Memphis Lives in Me” during Treehouse Acting Company’s benefit performance for the Youth Exchange Project

Abby Corrigan and Matt Mitchell’s Treehouse Acting Company presented “Songbirds of Summer” to benefit the Youth Exchange Program.

The Evening Muse in Charlotte’s NoDa District was overflowing Tuesday night as a steady parade of young performers, mostly graduates of Charlotte’s Northwest School of the Arts, regaled the standing-room only crowd with musical theatre and pop songs.

In addition to Y.E.P., the cabaret raised funds to support the Arts Empowerment Project, which matches children impacted by violence and abuse to meaningful, fulfilling arts experiences.

Corrigan, who plays “Medium Alison” in the national tour of Fun Home, and Mitchell started Treehouse Acting Company seven years ago, when they were both in the sixth grade. Their mission is to provide more opportunities for young artists. Seeing these gifted young performers strut their stuff while supporting community organizations was both inspiring and hopeful. We’re so very grateful to Abby Corrigan, Matt Mitchell and all of the performers.

Sarah Moore singing “Before It’s Over” from the musical Dogfight