Lyrik’s Institution Works to Empower KC Youth

February 25, 2022

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Lyrik’s Institution, a 2022 Centering Black Voices (CBV) grantee, is a cognitive-based program that works with youth in school and in out-of-school and summer programs to support positive behavior change by engaging students in creative arts. Kyle Hollins launched Lyrik’s Institution after completing time in prison during which he became interested in cognitive behavioral strategies and practices that can help shift people’s mental and behavioral frame from one of conflict, anger and violence to positive expression, problem-solving and leadership.

Hollins is located at Northeast High School in the Kansas City Public Schools where he works with high school youth and offers other community programs to help young people develop healthy avenues for “telling their stories and sharing their realities” by engaging in visual and literary creative arts and other community-based activities.

Hollins said he was exposed to the theories and benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy during his time in prison, and pursued his own growth as a program leader and instructor while incarcerated. He said the practices he embraced and studied helped him understand how his own mindset, thinking and actions in life before prison had put him on a continuously risky path. As he worked on his own emotional and behavioral response patterns, Hollins said he grappled with the recognition and emotional pain that he was not present for his daughter to guide and support her because of his own actions.

Motivated by cognitive behavioral science and his own studies, Hollins became a mentor to others in prison and used the time to map out a structure for the program that became Lyrik’s Institution. Within a few months of leaving prison in 2019, Hollins formed a limited liability corporation and in 2020 filed to establish the 501c3 nonprofit organization.

Lyrik’s programs include the Power Moves Scholar Forum, a process for helping schools understand concerns and community issues from students’ perspectives and help school administrators and teachers pull together culturally relevant resources to help meet students’ needs. Lyrik’s also provides professional development for teachers and administrators, provides training in positive behavioral support and classroom management, encourages parent engagement, and provides social skills training for youth.

“We help students develop positive coping skills by taking approaches and using examples they can culturally relate to in order to help them gain self-awareness, use critical thinking and develop their emotional intelligence,” Hollins said.

Over the past year, Lyrik’s has built out its team, which includes three full-time staff and five part-time. Their work focuses on program development, community partnerships, internship opportunities, and cognitive behavior training and professional development. Hollins said the CBV grant and capacity support came at the right time for his organization.

“Centering Black Voices is an opportunity to learn from other organizations in real time. I can run my nonprofit from a practical stance, but it’s the wisdom I can gain from others that will take Lyrik’s to the next level,” Hollins said.

“Centering Black Voices presents countless opportunities for me to grow. In a world where mentors are rare, this program has become just that. There are so many potential ‘holes in the road’ ahead of me that I don’t have the time to allow myself to fall in. Centering Black Voices is here to teach me strategies to lead my organization in the right direction. They are not only giving me information but creating opportunities to help hold my hand through it,” he said.

“Burnout is real in the world of social work. Too often burnout happens because of lack of process and procedure, not because of dedication and drive. I plan to absorb as much as I can. The Centering Black Voices grant is a blessing. This is the definition of a wraparound service and Lyrik’s Institution is grateful to be a partner.”

The REACH Foundation announced $20,000 awards in February 2022 to eight nonprofit organizations participating in the Centering Black Voices leadership and capacity development pilot. Five organizations were awarded a second year $20,000 grant; three organizations are new to the pilot in 2022.


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