Power Poetry: Using poetry — and machine learning — to increase teen literacy

About Power Poetry

Power Poetry is the world's first and largest mobile poetry community for youth. The nonprofit's mission is to help solve the U.S. literacy crisis through poetry reading and writing. The late poet and filmmaker Roland Legiardi-Laura founded Power Poetry in 2012 with George Weiner and his legacy lives on with the To Be Heard Foundation.

Industries: Non-profit
Location: United States

About Whole Whale

Whole Whale, a Google Partner and Google Ad Grants Certified Professional, is a digital agency that uses data and tech to increase the impact of nonprofits and for-benefit orgs through products, content, and services.

As a nonprofit operating on a tight budget and with a small staff, Power Poetry has limited resources but very big goals: To help youth find their voice through the medium of poetry. With that in mind, Power Poetry uses rap lyrics, American poetry, and even machine learning, to attract young people and inspire their imaginations.

Google Cloud Results

  • Drives number of teachers using the site in class by 60%
  • Decreases bounce rate on site 15%
  • Bridges gap between technology and art to raise literacy levels
  • Reduces exit rate by 6% for hundreds of thousands of sessions

Increases number of poems posted by 79%

Enabling Change

Solutions: Turn Data Into Insights

Power Poetry wanted to make poetry as relevant and exciting as possible to disadvantaged youth. By using Google Analytics, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer George Weiner knew that many visitors to the online site were interested in rap. And from that, a strategy was born: Develop a machine learning algorithm that could parse and analyze poems that people submit and then automatically show similarities in those poems to lyrics from the 30 top rappers. Power Poetry is developing a similar recommendation engine that leverages the poetry database from the Academy of American Poets.

Power Poetry worked with Google Partner Whole Whale to implement Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for its Poetry Genome project. Under the hood, the project delivers its poem and lyric matches via a combination of GCP services that include a Compute Engine virtual machine instance to host the API calls to Cloud AutoML Natural Language, which organizes ingested rap lyrics and poems into categories and makes them searchable. The data is prepped via Cloud Dataprep, stored in Cloud Storage, and accessible via the Cloud Datastore database service. Machine learning models built with Cloud Machine Learning Engine are trained to quickly identify similarities between the poem a person has submitted and the rap lyrics and poems in the Power Poetry databases, while Cloud AutoML Natural Language provides metrics such as average precision (AuPRC) to evaluate how well the model is performing for each category label.

Ultimately, Power Poetry users discover which rap artist or poet their work most resembles, which helps fire their interest and imagination. A visitor might discover his poem is, for instance, 20 percent similar to a specific artist's rap lyrics, and is then directed to site links to learn more about that artist and the artist's writing.

Through increased awareness and engagement, Power Poetry is bridging the worlds of technology and art — all for a higher cause. "By getting more youth from all backgrounds, including low-income students, to put their experiences into words and share those words with others, we're helping to spread literacy where it's needed," adds George. "And that's a big win for everyone."

Power Poetry participated in Data Solutions for Change, a Google data analytics program for nonprofits to achieve their missions at scale. As a participant, Power Poetry received Google Cloud credits, self-training resources, and enablement support.

"Google Cloud Platform augments our lean budget and staffing while enabling us to quickly compare our users' submissions with rap lyrics and published poetry. The cool factor of our rap poetry analysis alone drives engagement on our site significantly. We've seen a 15 percent decrease in bounce rates, a 79 percent increase in the number of poems posted, and a 60 percent increase in the number of teachers using our site in their classrooms."

George Weiner, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Power Poetry

About Power Poetry

Power Poetry is the world's first and largest mobile poetry community for youth. The nonprofit's mission is to help solve the U.S. literacy crisis through poetry reading and writing. The late poet and filmmaker Roland Legiardi-Laura founded Power Poetry in 2012 with George Weiner and his legacy lives on with the To Be Heard Foundation.

Industries: Non-profit
Location: United States

About Whole Whale

Whole Whale, a Google Partner and Google Ad Grants Certified Professional, is a digital agency that uses data and tech to increase the impact of nonprofits and for-benefit orgs through products, content, and services.

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