Mission: Words Beats & Life (WBL) transforms individual lives and whole communities through the training in and presentation of the elements of hip-hop culture.
Geographic areas served: Maryland, Virginia, District of Columbia
Programs: Urban arts academy as part of the urban arts academy program, wbl students participated in and hosted the annual "bumrush the boards: hip-hop chess tournament", created and distributed the jump-off mixtape as part of the "express yourself campaign to prevent youth violence", and the second edition, "college bound". They also hosted and participated in 4th annual freshest of all time b-boy/girl jam as part of the dc hip-hop theater festival. Wbl students created new murals in and around d. C. In the past year, including the "land of 1,000 drums" mural dedicated to the rich musical history of ward 8 of washington, d. C. , under the direction of cory stowers, director of design and urban arts academy instructor.
cipher program as part of the cipher program, partnered with professors and departments at columbia college, northwestern university, university of chicago, howard university, the university of maryland, morgan state, georgetown university and the university of the district of columbia to engage students studying hip-hop and social change in university settings. They also solidified partnerships with the kennedy center, lincoln theater and the national portrait gallery to host events at their respective spaces. Successfully published two issues of the wbl global journal of hip-hop. Wbl also presented the j dilla foundation, ludacris foundation, and lupe fiasco foundation along with a number of more traditional foundation and government based funding institutions. Also in 2010, wbl hosted it's inaugural midwest teach-in (700 in attendance over ) and the dc teach-in (5,000 in attendance over 6 days)
I started volunteering with Words, Beats & Life a few years ago; around the same time I started DJing. I had been looking for a place to mentor adolescent boys and girls, but really wanted to mentor young males of color. Through my volunteer experience as a college material coach and assistant DJ instructor, I found that this organization captures the essence of guiding the youth and giving them a voice in an environment where it can be nurtured and matured. I am a huge fan of Words Beats and Life because of what the organizations represents: transforming lives and community through Hip Hop. From the programming (with world renowned artists) to the community events, Words Beats & Life truly embodies that statement.
Being on the Board of Directors has also allowed me to view the organization in a different perspective. I have been able to understand the importance of fundraising, spreading the word about our community involvement, and our purpose for existing. Being a part of the Words, Beats & Life family even showed me how to better define my own purpose in life. I have been fortunate in the fact that this organization meets my passion with music, mentoring and people.
Words Beats & Life is one of the most exciting, innovative arts organizations in DC. They have the best hip hop public programs in the city: the bboy jams regularly attract 500-700 youth from the metro region; the chess tournament blends history, science and music in way that appeals to young and old; their art students' murals grace every quadrant of the city. They not only employ talented hip hop artists and educators but through their conferences, they provide a platform for like-minded national and international organizations to meet, build and expand.