A Voice for Opportunity

words can change everything

Own Your Story


Speak Up operates a simple model that gives the poor and powerless a voice and a job opportunity. Through the publication and distribution of a monthly magazine, individuals on the streets experience personal dignity, a chance for lasting income and a pathway out of dependency.

Since 2011, Speak Up has published dozens of magazines, empowered hundreds of homeless entrepreneurs, and introduced thousands of readers to transformative stories.



To see a community where the most broken lives are being transformed.

Our Mission

To produce a “street magazine” that provides a source of income for vulnerably-housed people and increases public conversation by covering issues of homelessness, poverty and social justice.


Speak Up Magazine is a 501(c)3 Public Charity. The first issue of Speak Up was published in 2011 in Charlotte, NC. Speak Up is a member of the International Network of Street Papers, which provides networking guidance for similar initiatives around the globe.


We Affirm:

The human soul has immeasurable value.

Developing individuals is of the highest priority.

Dignity is a right for all persons.

A meaningful life of purpose can lived by everyone.

A better way can probably be found. Purposeful change and innovation are welcome.


Founding Members

Matt Shaw, Executive Director
Lana Shaw, Co-founder

Current Team

Maria Valdivieso, art direction & design
Peggi Knowe, editing & admin
Leah Burnett, editing
Harry Griffin, writing workshop teacher
Nate Casey, street outreach & strategy
Kaitlyn Tokay, corporate engagement




Board of Directors

Phil Felten, Association Management Solutions
Eric Gorman,  Parsons Brinckerhoff
Lisa Koons, Charlotte 24-7 Prayer Room
Bill Shaw, Urban Opportunities for Change Foundation
Cesar Silva, All Nations Coffee


Matt Shaw, President
Lindsay DaCosta, Secretary
Cal Queener, Treasurer

History of Speak Up

The first issue of Speak Up Magazine was published on October 8, 2011.241_speakup

The passion for the magazine came from a Bible verse: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

Those words are still at the heart of Speak Up’s mission: to give a voice to those without one, while at the same time creating an empowering work opportunity that has the power to transform lives and communities.


Charlotte Agenda (12/22/15)
Has Charlotte Made Progress in Ending Homelessness?

WFAE NPR (12/16/14)
Speak Up Magazine: Giving a Voice to Charlotte’s Homeless

Creative Loafing Charlotte (3/27/13)
Speak Up Magazine Gets Another Chance

Charlotte Observer: State of the Art Blog (8/29/12):
Charlotte’s coolest new magazine

Charlotte Magazine (11/01/11):
The People’s Publication

FOX News Charlotte (10/08/11):
Charlotte’s First Street Magazine Headed to a Corner Near You

CLT Blog (10/07/11):
Word on the Street: Charlotte’s First Street Mag, Speak Up

Red White and Green Photography Blog (8/23/11):
Speak Up

Permission to Peruse (8/22/11):
Speak Up

Crossroads Charlotte (7/18/11):
New street paper wants to ‘Speak Up’ for Charlotte’s homeless

Charlotte Observer (7/10/11):
Street Mag Will Give Homeless a Voice


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