Speak Up exists to develop transformative lifelong skills in homeless people while giving them a voice, income and dignity.

One Magazine at a Time — A Voice

Homeless people write their stories, experiences, hopes. Their work becomes articles that are printed as issues of Speak Up Magazine.

(If you are facing homelessness, you can write. Learn how.)

One Sale at a Time — Real Income

The published magazine are sold on the streets and in public places by people facing homelessness. Copies sell for $5 each. Each seller (“vendor”) keeps all the cash from their magazine sales. They spend the money on the basics of life–food, shelter, transportation. After the first 20 free magazines, vendors purchase more copies from Speak Up for just $1.

One Person at a Time — Lasting Dignity

Through Speak Up, people facing homelessness develop their voice and earn immediate income by their own hands. They grow in resilience, develop marketable new communication skills and come to see themselves as worthwhile contributors to society.

Over 500 individuals facing homelessness have partnered with Speak Up as writers and vendors.


The first issue of Speak Up was published in 2011 in Charlotte, NC. 90 issues have been published since then.

Speak Up is a member of the Glasgow-based International Network of Street Papers, which provides guidance for similar initiatives around the globe. In 2015 and 2018, Speak Up won the INSP award for “Best Vendor Contribution,” given annually celebrate the published contributions of homeless writers.

Speak Up Magazine is a 501(c)3 Public Charity.


“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)

  • 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.
Current Team

Matt Shaw, Executive Director / Editor
Peggi Knowe, editing u0026amp; admin
Harry Griffin, homeless writer’s workshop

Lana Shaw, Co-founder

Board of Directors

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

Cal Queener, Treasurer
Lindsay DaCosta, Secretary


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