Alliance of Hip Hop Archives and Collections

Since 2012, Hip Hop Education Center in collaboration with Cornell University’s Hip Hop Collection, The Schomburg Center, and NYU’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program, have hosted two Documenting History in Your Own Backyard Symposiums to bring together institutions that collect and preserve Hip Hop, collectors, archivists, curators, and scholars for the advancement of archiving and preservation of Hip Hop culture.

The goal of Documenting History in Your Own Backyard Symposium is to share knowledge, lessons learned, to build community, and foster ideas and future collaborations that will strategically advance the archiving and preservation of Hip Hop culture.

➤ Safe Space – we create a safe space for dialogue, sharing ideas, asking questions, and documenting / transcribing the process

➤ Research – we conduct an assessment of the field

➤ Publish – we collect essays, testimonials, photographs, and research to publish a book in the near future

➤ Exhibit – we highlight archives and collections through exhibitions

Curating Discussions On Hip Hop Education’s Most Pertinent Topics

As thought leaders in the field, HHEC curates convenings for a deeper dive into Hip Hop Education’s most pertinent topics.

  • Hip Hop Education Lecture Series: Through a three-campus partnership that included theUniversity of Wisconsin­-Madison, Teachers College; Columbia University, and New York University, the HHEC initiative launched the first of its kind video-conference as a Hip Hop Education public lecture series. More than 1,000 students participated, 2012
  • Documenting History In Your Own Backyard: HHEC partnered with The Schomburg Center, Cornell University’s Hip Hop Collection, and the Smithsonian’s Archive Center to present the first symposium exploring the process of documenting and preserving Hip Hop culture and history. Over fifty leaders and experts in the field convened at The Schomburg Center to continue to shape the field and develop innovative preservation, educational and community outreach projects with the goal of ensuring the survival of Hip Hop’s collections and archives, 2014
  • Documenting History In Your Own Backyard II: HHEC, The Schomburg Center, Cornell University’s Hip Hop Collection, and theUniversal Hip Hop Museum partnered for this symposium to continue the conversation around development and preservation in the field. Over 200 people attended representing nearly a dozen countries, 2020
  • “My” Philosophy: The Rise of Hip Hop Studies In The Academy: Virginia Union University (VUU) and Virginia State University(VSU) in collaboration with the HHEC, presented a symposium to interrogate, critique, and explore the development of Hip Hop Studies through the intersectionality of the academy, sports, entertainment industry, social justice, and entrepreneurship, 2022

Creating National Hip Hop Music Education Guidelines

Together with ‘Music Will’, HHEC is partnered to create P -12 Hip Hop music education standards. This initiative helps public school teachers integrate Hip Hop music education into their curricula and school culture.

Music Will

Honoring Excellence With The Extra Credit Awards

The Extra Credit Awards (ECA) recognizes exceptional leaders and organizations using Hip Hop, technology, and social entrepreneurship to advance the education field. The ECA also honors the pioneers and champions of Hip Hop and the education field. The first Extra Credit Awards was held at NYU in 2017. The Award was designed by Carlos Mare139 Rodriguez, an internationally acclaimed sculptor/ painter/ Hip Hop Scholar/ US Cultural Ambassador and creator of the annual BET/Black Entertainment Award.

Mee The Extra Credit Awards Honorees

Tomás Alvarez – Beats, Rhymes and Life

Tomás AlvarezTomás Alvarez is a social entrepreneur and youth advocate working to elevate mental health and social outcomes among the youth of color throughout the United States. In 2004 Tomás pioneered Beats, Rhymes and Life, one of the country’s first ‘Hip Hop Therapy’ programs that utilized the process of creating rap music as a tool for mental health and healing among urban teens uninterested in traditional mental health services. Today Tomás’ Hip Hop Therapy model has become a benchmark and sparked a global movement to use Hip Hop Therapy as an innovative solution to addressing the mental health challenges experienced by disenfranchised youth. As a published author and passionate speaker, Tomás enjoys sharing his vision for a new mental health paradigm that centers youth people in their own healing process and empowers them to become changemakers in their community and beyond. Tomás’ numerous awards and recognitions throughout his career are a tribute to his vision, leadership skills, and impact. In 2012 NBC Latino named Tomás Alvarez III one of the country’s Top 20 Innovators, whose work is changing their fields. The top honor placed Tomás in the company of other innovators such as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Rosario Dawson, and Dolores Huerta. More recently, Tomás was elected to serve as a lifetime Fellow by Ashoka, an international organization that identifies and supports social entrepreneurs whose bold ideas have the power to transform patterns in society.

Beats, Rhymes and Life (BRL) is a 501(c)(3) community-based organization in Oakland, California that serves youth between the ages of 12-24 years. Our mission is to improve mental health and social outcomes among marginalized youth by using hip-hop as a catalyst for positive change and development

Rob Jackson – Beats, Rhymes and Life

Rob JacksonRob Jackson A Hip Hop artist, educator and youth advocate, Rob Jackson is a representative of Oakland’s multicultural community. He received a Bachelors Degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Ethnic Studies from San Francisco State University. With an extensive background in the field of Education and expertise in curriculum development, Rob co-founded Beats Rhymes and Life with Tomas Alvarez in 2004 to serve the mental health needs of the youth of color. With over ten years of experience working with marginalized youth, and fifteen years as a Hip Hop Artists, Rob has helped BRL bridge the worlds of mental health and urban culture to effectively serve youth throughout the Bay Area and the Bronx, New York. As BRL’s Chief of Staff, Rob is responsible for staff development and ensuring program fidelity.

Beats, Rhymes and Life (BRL) is a 501(c)(3) community-based organization in Oakland, California that serves youth between the ages of 12-24 years. Our mission is to improve mental health and social outcomes among marginalized youth by using Hip Hop as a catalyst for positive change and development

Dr. Christopher Emdin – Science Genius and #HipHopEd

Christopher EmdinDr. Christopher Emdin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University; where he also serves as Director of the Science Education program and Associate Director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education.

He is an alumni fellow at the Hutchins Center at Harvard University and served as STEAM Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State and Minorities in Energy Ambassador for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Dr. Emdin is a social critic, public intellectual and science advocate whose commentary on issues of race, culture, inequality and education have appeared in dozens of influential periodicals including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

Dr. Emdin holds a Ph.D in Urban Education with a concentration in Mathematics, Science, and Technology; Masters degrees in both Natural Sciences and Education Administration, and Bachelors degrees in Physical Anthropology, Biology, and Chemistry.

He is the creator of the #HipHopEd social media movement, and a much sought-after public speaker on a number of topics that include hip-hop education, STEM education, politics, race, class, diversity, and youth empowerment. He is also an advisor to numerous international organizations, school districts, and schools.

He is the author of the award winning book, Urban Science Education for the Hip Hop Generation and the New York Times bestseller For White Folks Who Teach In the Hood and the Rest of Ya’ll too.

Toki Wright – McNally School of Music Hip Hop Certificate

Toki WrightToki Wright is the assistant chair of Berklee’s Professional Music Department. He is internationally recognized as an MC, producer, writer, radio host, arts diplomat, and community organizer.

Wright led the country’s first fully accredited Hip Hop studies program at McNally Smith College of Music. The program was awarded Best Transformative Higher Learning Model by the Hip Hop Education Center at New York University. He regularly tours the world performing and teaching in Africa, Europe, and China. As an organizer, Wright led the youth nonprofit organization Yo! The Movement, facilitating seven Twin Cities Celebration of Hip Hop festivals and other community actions. He also helped to establish Hip Hop at H.E.A.L.S., teaching performance to former child soldiers in Gulu, Uganda, and promoting the careers of hip-hop artists in Croatia and Sierra Leone.

Wright has released albums through his imprint Soul Tools Entertainment and Rhymesayers Entertainment, charting in the top 50 on MTV and iTunes. He has performed at events such as Coachella and Rock the Bells; toured with Evidence of Dilated Peoples, Brother Ali, Atmosphere, and the late Sean Price; and released recordings with Talib Kweli, BJ The Chicago Kid, Caroline Smith, P.O.S., G Yamazawa, and others. Under the moniker Mamadu, Wright has also worked behind the scenes producing music for various artists.

A two-time Emmy Award winner, Wright co-curated the two-time CLIO Award–winning and Cannes Lions–nominated Watch the Stove mixtape for Hamburger Helper/General Mills, which was one of the biggest viral marketing campaigns of 2016. Wright also wears several hats in media. He created Soul Tools Radio on KFAI-FM in Minneapolis in 2013 and hosts Wright About Now on American Public Media’s The Current. He hosts several arts and music events, writes for Insight News, and is a judge for NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest.

Ma Dukes – J Dilla Foundation

Ma DukesMaureen Yancey aka Ma Dukes is the mother of the late James Dewitt Yancey aka J Dilla, who is one of the most prolific artists and producers of Hip Hop, Neo Soul and other genres of music. Producing Grammy-nominated works for Common, The Roots, Tribe Called Quest, Erykah Badu, and Busta Rhymes to name a few. Madukes carries the torch high for her son. Madukes working with Timothy Burnside has assisted in the induction of James Dewitt Yancey into the new Smithsonian African American Museum scheduled to open early 2016. Madukes established the J Dilla Foundation in May 2006 under the guidance of J.Barber and Mannat & Stewart. Madukes works daily beside her Executive spouse Toney Smith and Administrator, Diana Boardley.

J Dilla Foundation: We are leaders in the effort to enhance and participate with programs and organizations that help to develop not only talents but creative, and professional leadership skills that will extend into successful careers. We strive to extend the gift of music appreciation globally as part of a well rounded academic program.

Mark Katz – Beat Making Lab and Next Level

Mark KatzMark Katz holds degrees from the College of William and Mary (B.A. in philosophy) and the University of Michigan (M.A., Ph.D. in musicology). Before joining the faculty at UNC, he taught at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University (1999–2006). His scholarship focuses on music and technology, hip hop, cultural diplomacy, and the violin. He has written four books, Capturing Sound: How Technology has Changed Music (2004, rev. ed. 2010), The Violin: A Research and Information Guide(2006), Groove Music: The Art and Culture of the Hip-Hop DJ(2012), and Build: The Power of Hip Hop Diplomacy in a Divided World (2019). He co-edited (with Timothy Taylor and Tony Grajeda) the collection Music, Sound, and Technology in America(2012). He is former editor of the Journal of the Society for American Music and served for many years on the National Recording Preservation Board. Katz has served on the Boards of Directors of the American Musicological Society and the Society for American Music. He is a former chair of the Department of Music and former Director of UNC’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities.

Professor Katz teaches courses on music and technology, popular music, and cultural diplomacy. In 2011 he received an Innovation Grant from UNC’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities to expand the scope and reach of university-level music pedagogy. One result of this grant was the creation of several new courses, including The Art and Culture of the DJ, Beat Making Lab, Rap Lab, and Rock Lab. Aimed at students without formal musical training, these courses introduce students to composition, performance, music history, entrepreneurship, and community engagement. in 2019, Katz launched the Carolina Hip Hop Institute, an intensive summer course.

In 2013, Katz became the founding Director of Next Level, a U.S. Department of State–funded program that sends U.S. Hip Hop artists abroad to foster cultural exchange, conflict transformation, and entrepreneurship. Until 2019, when Katz stepped down as Director, the program conducted workshops in 30 countries on six continents, and generated more than $5 million in grants. His work in promoting the arts and music education in underserved communities has been recognized through awards from the Freedoms Foundation, the Hip Hop Education Center, and Indy Weekly.

In 2016, Katz was awarded Royal Musical Association’s Dent Medal, which credited him with taking “musicology and Hip Hop studies in bold new directions, creating a model of exemplary and ethical scholarship that internationalizes the discipline in productive ways.” In 2017, Katz was awarded UNC’s University Diversity Award for Faculty, recognizing his significant contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus and in the community. As Director of the Institute for Arts and Humanities he helped launch UNC’s Faculty of Color and Indigenous Faculty Group and raised $100,000 in support of it.

Professor Katz speaks frequently on music, cultural diplomacy, conflict transformation, and entrepreneurship to academic and non-academic audiences. He has spoken at universities and other institutions throughout the U.S. and Europe, including invited talks and keynote lectures at the British Library, Brown, Cambridge, Case Western, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Harvard, Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern, Oxford, the Sacher Stiftung, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Stanford, Syracuse, and the University of Turku. He addresses non-academic audiences through radio and newspaper interviews, blog posts, web chats, and other public engagements.

Bringing High-Quality Music Education For All Students

Music Education Policy Roundtable

HHEC is a member of the ‘Music Education Policy Roundtable’: a public policy coalition led by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) that advocates for a high-quality music education for all students.

Mission and Core Values:
The Music Education Policy Roundtable is a public policy coalition led by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) that advocates for a high-quality music education for all students. Consisting of music organizations, trade associations, and businesses, the Roundtable is unified under a single policy banner and works to achieve a consensus set of federal legislative recommendations aimed at ensuring the continued presence and expansion of high-quality music programs in America’s schools. The Roundtable believes that music education should be taught by certified music educators, delivering sequential, standards-based music education to all students across the nation, regardless of personal circumstance or background.

Areas of Work:

  • Policy development
  • Federal advocacy
  • State-level advocacy support
  • Advocacy training
  • Music education advocacy PR
  • Web content and support
  • Membership development

Learn More at

Designing Project-Based Participatory Curricula to Harness the Power of Storytelling

The HHEC designs custom project-based  learning curricula to harness the power of storytelling and teach youth how to create timelines, infographics, cultural mapping, and oral history projects using digital technology. Our curricula have been used in libraries, museums, and classrooms across the country to offer youth exciting ways to connect to history and community.

Challenging Youth Through Financial & Business Education

In partnership with Pockets Change, HHEC has created the Hip Hop FinFest, a financial literacy initiative in which Middle and High School Students are invited to explore challenges that build financial skills and then use that knowledge to write, perform and submit an original song.

Learn more about HipHopFinest

Hip-Hop Song Competition

Developing Careers and Job Opportunities Through Pre-Apprenticeships

In collaboration with the Arts2Work organization, HHEC is developing a Digital Archiving and Curation Pre-Apprenticeship Program. This program will be targeted especially for the over 4 million ‘disconnected youth’ ages 16-24 who are neither working nor in school. Through Arts2Work and their certificate framework, this training will provide direct pathways to employment.

Arts2Work Logo

Think & Do Tanks To Build Upon Research, Tools, & Best Practices

Think & Do Tanks To Build Upon ResearchTo further investigate, organize, analyze, facilitate and professionalize the field of Hip­ Hop Education, HHEC formed a Think & Do Tank to connect thought leaders and practitioners with emerging and seasoned artists, scholars, educators, administrators, and community leaders. The goal of the HHEC Think & Do Tank is to engage a range of constituencies that are using Hip Hop for educational purposes and to produce and disseminate research, tools, and best practices to the wider field.

  • Think Tank I: Rollin Deep, Moving Forward: Professionalizing Hip Hop Education. 2011, Produced in partnership with NYU with support from The Nathan Cummings Foundation
  • Think Tank IILaying the Foundation for Professional and Economic Development of Hip Hop Education. 2012, Produced in partnership with Columbia University: Teachers College and NYU with support from The Nathan Cummings Foundation
  • Think Tank IIILegacy Building! Cultivating A Global Cypher from the Streets to the Classroom. 2013, Produced in partnership with the Schomburg Center with support from The Nathan Cummings Foundation and The Ford Foundation
  • Think Tank IV: The Fifth Element: The Future and Promise of Hip Hop Pedagogy. 2017, Produced in partnership with Stanford University

Promoting Careers in Hip Hop Through Immersive Cyphers

HHEC has identified job opportunities for young people within Hip Hop culture and promote these opportunities through career cyphers; 4-6 week long workshops that introduce the STEAM fields of work including; journalism, media production, music production and tech jobs. This immersive learning experience of STEAM meets entrepreneurship teaches youth how to create & market their work, develop business plans and create budgets.

  • Virtual Internship: In May 2020, HHEC was funded by The Bush Foundation to launch its first virtual internship program as part of the Career Cypher initiative and in partnership with the High School for Recording Arts in St. Paul, MinnesotaThe program included the participation of  LaGuardia High School in NYand View Park High School in California. Students from across the country went through a summer-long, in-depth career exploration including skills-building, and collaborative project-based programs. Students were introduced to professionals through a speaker series, and curated their own online festival as a culminating event. Since then, over 200 students have participated in the training program.
  • ‘The Career Cypher: Guide to Independent Artists’:  In partnership with The Residency, a nonprofit organization based in Seattle founded by Hip Hop artist Macklemore, HHEC held a six week virtual workshop in spring 2022 with students participating from across the country including; California, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Innovating Classrooms, Schools & After School Programs

AME Institute - Pop-Up OaklandHHEC in partnership with Hip Hop Congress has teamed up with the California Department of Education Career Technical Education Arts, Media and Entertainment sector to develop the ‘Hip Hop Education and Equity Initiative’. The goal is to integrate Hip Hop in curricula, school programming, after school, and student clubs while also recruiting a new workforce and creating employment opportunities for teaching artists as co-teachers. H2E2 distributes federally funded grants to schools interested implementing the initiative. HHEC is already working with over 50 schools across the country; focusing on arts, media, entertainment, and digital archiving.

Learn More about AME Institute Pop-Up Oakland

Pop-Up Oakland – March 2023 Poster

Elevating Innovation Through Fellowships

HHEC cultivates problem solvers, education innovators, impact media producers, and social entrepreneurs to develop Hip Hop Education ideas and the next generation of leaders and storytellers. Through our Fellows and scholars program, we have supported over 100 projects and initiatives.

Meet The 2022 Fellows

Jen Johnson, Ph.D.
Tracee Worley
Sam “Rabbi Darkside” Sellers
Roberto Rivera
Genesis Be
Gabriel ‘Kwikstep’ Dionisio
Felicia Pride
Chris “Kazi” Rolle
Chen Lo
Ana “Rokafella” Garcia