LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge

Beats & Rhymes Music Workshop and Album

Beats and Rhymes serves at-risk and system-impacted youth/young adults (ages 14-24) and orbits around our recording studio. Participants are invited to write, rehearse, record and produce their own poetry, raps and songs, while gaining skills in music production and music business. Youth emerge with the tools to tell their own stories, to challenge the status quo, and to dream a new world into being. Our program culminates with an annual album and performance event and alumni are connected to music industry internships and jobs.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Support for Foster and Systems-Impacted Youth

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

East LA

South LA

Antelope Valley

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

In L.A. County alone, the number of youth and their families impacted by poverty, violence and abuse is staggering: as of 2019, 25% of children in LA live below the poverty line, 33% of Antelope Valley Youth live below the poverty line, there are 450 gangs with over 45,000 gang members, the dropout rate is 22%, with a disproportionate rate of 34% of Hispanic youth and 43% of African American youth dropping out, and there are more youth on probation per capita in the Antelope Valley than in any part of Los Angeles County. The worldwide trauma, pain, and suffering of the last couple of years has disproportionately impacted the youth served by Street Poets. The pandemic further revealed deep-seated inequities in health care and education for underserved and at-risk communities of color. Since the pandemic, there has been an increased impact on the mental health of black and brown teens and the education gap and access to quality arts programming continues to widen.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Beats and Rhymes nurtures the poetic/musical expressions of our youth, enabling them to transcend their circumstances/embrace their inherent creativity. In an age marked by turmoil/disconnection, we stand ready to offer the transformative power of poetry/music as a catalyst for personal growth/social change/collective envisioning of a brighter future. This workshop serves underserved/at-risk youth/young adults and orbits around our recording studio. Participants are invited to write/rehearse/record/produce their own poetry/raps/songs/beats. In the tradition of the village "griot," Street Poets emerge from this workshop with the tools to tell their own stories/challenge the status quo/dream a new world into being. Youth are encouraged to explore/celebrate their Latin/African roots, incorporating their cultural influences into their work. Participants gain skills in music production/equipment recording/sound-proofing/editing/state-of-the-art computer programs/software/work with music industry professionals/mentors. Additionally, our Poetry in Motion Van visits local parks/community centers to offer free music workshops in outdoor settings and to recruit youth for our programs. Students also take field trips to connect with industry professionals and work opportunities (Sony, New Math, Jail Guitar Doors+). Street Poets produces an annual album of youth voices and hold an album release event for the community. Past albums:

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Street Poets music program incorporates music production instruction/songwriting/leadership/job skill training opportunities in the music industry, alongside social-emotional/healing practices (narrative therapy/music therapy/council/restorative justice practices.) Success with this program includes continued system change within the probation system/current punitive system for rehabilitating youth. One example of this is how we use our recording studio program to help our youth develop their voices/speak their stories of truth--rather than the traditional punitive models of rehabilitation, we foster an environment where our youth learn to access their wounds to create art, inspire others and affect change. In 2024, we will also be opening our new youth center/future home, a 4860-square-foot building, at 141 W 28th Street in Los Angeles, which will also further extend our evolution as a culture-shaping, system-changing community-based organization.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Street Poets meticulously evaluates the impact of our programs, tracking quantitative/qualitative assessments such as self-assessments, anecdotal feedback, youth writing samples, and partner input. Our aim is to understand not only the immediate effects on our youth but the wider influence of our music creation/consulting services. Alumni involvement in the community/within our organization further indicates system change. We are focusing on the enhanced impact on the probation system and the benefits of gift-centered/healing-inspired youth support. We'll track improvements in mental health, such as increased self-confidence and use of arts for healing and a sense of community. Our yearly albums and youth voices exemplify impact and system change. And, Street Poets' collaborative work with the Arts for Healing and Justice Network, of which we are founders, has led to alternative programming that resulted in the closure of Camp Miller, the probation facility where we first started.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 75

Indirect Impact: 2,000