Tomás 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.