Poetry Out Loud is a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Over the past 11 years, Poetry Out Loud has reached more than 3 million students and 45,000 teachers from 10,000 schools nationwide.


Teaching Artists from the California Poets in Schools will come to high your school or youth organization for a three-hour intensive poetry program using the Poetry Out Loud toolkit. They will also help your students pick a poem to recite at competition. High school teachers are encouraged to implement Poetry Out Loud Curriculum in their classrooms. Program implementation may be designed to the needs of your school or youth organization.

If needed, classroom winners will advance to schoolwide competitions. School champions then compete at the San Mateo County competition on February 8, 2019. Our distinguished San Mateo County winner will have the opportunity to spend two days meeting state representatives and other students from around the state by participating in California Poetry Out Loud State Finals in Sacramento in March 2019. Reimbursement for travel to and lodging in Sacramento will be provided. The California champion will advance to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals in April 2019 in Washington, DC, where $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed.


Participating students will have the opportunity to win prizes and scholarships at the county, state, and national levels:

  • San Mateo County Poetry Out Loud Winner: $100

  • California State Champion:

    • $200 cash prize and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

    • $500 for their school to purchase literary materials

  • National Finals: an opportunity to compete for college scholarship funds up to $20,0000


Teachers who coordinate Poetry Out Loud activities at their high school will receive a stipend of up to $200.*  Please email this form to the San Mateo County Arts Commission at by January 15, 2019.

*Only available if Poetry Out Loud activities are conducted outside of regular teaching duties and school hours. Also, subject to change depending on the number who schools participate. 


  • SCHOOLS, January 10, 2019: School/Teacher Registration Form due. Email to
  • YOUTH ORGANIZATIONS/INDIVIDUAL STUDENTS, January 10, 2019: Student Registration Form due. Email to
  • February 8, 2019: San Mateo County Poetry Out Loud Competition—date tentative; location & time TBD.
  • March 3-4, 2019: California State Finals, Sacramento


Contact the San Mateo County Arts Commission at

Funding for Poetry Out Loud provided in part by: