Posted by Doreen Higgins on Oct 14, 2019

Dare Dukes visited us this week amid a flurry of local meetings and publicity for the DEEP CENTER, which advocates for public school youth, particularly those whose lives may be limited by circumstances of poverty and other disadvantages. Dare has an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and an MFA in Theater from the University of Minnesota. He has been the Executive Director of the DEEP CENTER since 2014 and over this period has developed this organization from a local after-school program to a national leader in the fields of art education and youth development.

 

His particular focus when talking to us concerned the disadvantages for our own local youth who are facing hurdles to their education, life skills, and transition to a successful, fulfilling and satisfying adulthood. Dare quoted our Savannah/Chatham County statistics showing the substantial numbers of our youth living below the poverty line, potential members of what he called the “school-to-prison” lifeline.The objectives of the programs of which Dare spoke are best described by a quote from the Savannah Morning News, which has published several recent articles about DEEP CENTER:

  “We (DEEP CENTER) use creative writing and art to help young people connect their learning to their lives, their lives to their communities, and their actions to transformational change.”
 
Dare continued:
  “We also work to identify policies, both administrative and legislative, that can be put into place to make Savannah a better place to grow up.”
 
The subjects of primary concern in Savannah are systems that create barriers to our youth, which include: school discipline, policing, low wage jobs, unemployment, poverty, and gun violence. Programs that are already in place are often not known to those who would best benefit from them, and which could offer help to overcome difficult circumstances. In a Brief presented to a seminar hosted by DEEP CENTER and attended by numerous local civic leaders, recommendations were made, including abolishing economic sanctions for youth in the juvenile justice system, restructuring local policing practices, and expanding affordable mental health care. DEEP CENTER offers opportunities to all who want to help, including an after school creative writing program for youth, a program for adults to assist young people to write, and the organization solicits a monetary gift to help DEEP CENTER offer these programs, for which they charge nothing. More information is available at deepcenter.org