Word Beats & Life

A nonprofit organization

$1,275 raised by 10 donors

1% complete

$220,000 Goal

In 2022 Words Beats & Life turns 20 years old. It’s hard to believe that this organization was created to do just two things: First, to publish the definitive canon of academic research centered in hip-hop with the academic rigor through a publishing process; and second, to create a community for the development of youth artists in school that were unable to release their creative brilliance beginning at the Benning Park Recreation Center in Southeast DC.

We began this work with four co-founders, all students at the University of Maryland, who had either worked on or attended the Words Beats & Life Conference.  We all came to the founding with different experiences and expectations. We all were witnesses to the power of hip-hop culture in our efforts to bring together diverse communities around shared understanding and collective work to transform communities.  

Over the last two decades we have served thousands of youth and adults, hosted multiple festivals, continued to publish our journal, and created innovative events that have been emulated by others. We created the world's first hip-hop chess tournament, created murals and led master classes, hosted performances and retreats in 14 other countries. 

I wish I could say that this was all part of the original vision but once we left the university environment and really began to understand the needs and available resources to reach a larger community, we stepped up.  And we did this not just with alumni of UMD, but also Prince George's Community College, Morgan State, Penn State, Howard University, Georgetown University, Trinity College, American University and more. It has also been through the labor of members of the Divine Nine performing our service to and with the community.  It’s amazing to think about how many amazing people have joined us to do this work.  

Moving into our 20th year, especially in these times, we are creating work with Love.  I joked at our most recent retreat that we should consider a name change in our 20th year to Words Beats & Love. Love has always been part of our effort to promote LIFE.  To that end we will be working to have the largest impact possible in Washington DC over the next 10 years.  COVID has really been transformational for us, and this past summer we worked in 8 schools: two elementary schools, two middle schools and four high schools. We saw and were told by school administrators about the difference our programming made in the lives of their students. During this current school year we are working in five schools, one middle school and four high schools.  So many other schools have reached out because the need is so great. 

And that is why we are working to raise $220,000 in 2022 to launch a decade-long initiative called Words Beats & Life in Every School (Washington DC).  

We will begin with middle schools in Washington DC enhancing existing art programming and initiating art programming in schools that have no art. This effort will be supported by individual donors like you, companies, corporations and foundations.  We are dedicated to this effort and have spent the last 18 months building a Board of Directors that can support this effort. To accomplish this goal we must grow our individual donor base. 

This is where you can help.  Please consider making us a charity to which you make your end of year tax deductible contribution. Make your donation today.  

You have seen some of the differences we have made in the last two decades.  Be part of this systemic change.

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Word Beats & Life

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Arts & Culture



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