YR Media Comes to Chicago, Shifting Media Landscape for BIPOC Youth

It takes an incredible team of forward-thinking individuals to bridge the gap between creativity and opportunity in Chicago. YR Media creates space for black, indigenous, and people of color between the ages of 14 and 24 in underserved communities who are often overlooked due to resources, innovation and success. 

Where the divide is rooted in access and equity, YR Media is the answer. The newly built Pilsen-based multimedia hub serves as a training ground for aspiring creatives seeking to develop their portfolio and network. This transformative program empowers youth voices to make a difference in the Chicago media and worldwide. Led by senior media-level executive Kyra Kyles, YR’s mission is to offer information, career opportunities and pathways to equip them with enough knowledge to serve as disruptors in this industry. 

Answering the Call to Change the World

Kyra Kyles, Chief Executive Officer of YR Media

Initially, when tasked with the opportunity to lead YR Media, Kyles immediately sought ways to replicate the model of its Bay Area base for Chicago. 

“When we first launched digitally, it was all editorial. As time progressed, our buzz grew, and we really began attracting people from the Midwest (specifically during the pandemic). I knew that my beloved Midwest needed the same support: learning and development, social, free therapy, onsite case manager, healthy food and more. In September of this year, we were able to successfully fund, open and launch our program, said Kyles. 

Here are two things YR Media believes in: 

  • Paying Young People: YR Media believes in paying young people for training. When leadership believes that young people should be paid for whatever they are doing simply because they provide unique perspectives and commentary and have their pulse on the culture, you pay the young people!
  • Providing PAID Career Opportunities: Once the young people finish the program, they become eligible for PAID career opportunities within YR Media. There’s room everywhere, whether it’s the newsroom, podcast or music production.  

Innovation Over Competition

Opening a site to promote BIPOC storytelling is essential. Experience is paramount, and the universal truth is that young people are today’s voice, not tomorrow’s. YR Media selected the Pilsen neighborhood to house the program because of its central location to communities where the innovators in our program reside. Connection to the community is of utmost importance to YR Media.  

YR Media seeks to be in the places where the voices are needed. YR Media is proud to join the Midwest, where there are media organizations on the ground, adding, “Our goal is not to compete but to team up because there is space for everyone. We want to partner with other community organizations to have a more significant impact when we work together.” 

Empowering GenZ BIPOC

“It is vital for young people to understand that they can do this work. Our young people need to believe in the possibility of what they can become but also what they deserve to have access to. And we have created the beauty of possibility in our state-of-the-art Pilsen space. Our young people have the ability to film and edit movies, create storyboards, record podcasts, audio and music production, write and more,” Kyles said.

YR Media Program Director Sergio Mojica adds, “We are providing young people with professional-level equipment. The purpose of it is not just to touch fancy stuff. When they graduate from our program (should they decide not to do an internship with us), they will be ready to handle industry-level equipment and will not be intimidated because they prepared for it.”

As for me covering this story, I can attest that when I entered this beautiful space with exposed brick and an impeccable view of the city, I felt hopeful in the investment of our youth, not because of the art, but because you could feel the care that was put into curating this space. I am a proud product of Gallery 37 and, therefore, the creative investment of Chicago, so I get excited to see that same contribution being made in the generation that follows. 

In an industry where creativity is key, but confidence is currency, I’m excited to hear about the meaningful disruption YR Media will provide for this city. 

To learn more about YR Media and how young people can connect with this organization, visit www.yrmedia.org.

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