The Work


Formed in 2010, the Hip-Hop Education Center serves as a catalyst for social change and equity through Hip-Hop-based education, research, and a digital library designed to archive, publish, teach, distribute, and manage resources to re-imagine education, engagement, and community.


Our objective is to promote and formalize hip-hop-based education in public and private schools to increase the number of high school and college graduates, reduce incarceration rates and youth recidivism, and develop employment and business opportunities in disenfranchised and marginalized communities.


It is our responsibility to archive and preserve our history to ensure the work, lessons, and messages are passed down and disseminated to future generations. The HHEC’s archiving initiative serves as a community repository to store and promote archives and collections of hip-hop artists, organizations, schools, and independent collectors for education purpose.


The HHEC is where it is today because of the relationship we have with the community and because of our role as curators and connectors we can trace our imprint across the globe. We have been fortunate to work with some of the best schools and organizations doing the work on the ground such as Columbia University, HiArts, Words, Beats and Life, Tribeca Film Institute, U.S. State Department, The Kennedy Center, University of Wisconsin, New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center, UNESCO, and UN-Habitat. 


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 pioneers and champions of the hip-hop and education field. 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.


HHEC is led by women, and we are particularly interested in highlighting and empowering women in hip-hop to instill a more just and equal playing field. There is a handful of celebrity Hip-Hop women role models of which the public is aware, such as Queen Latifah, Eve, Missy Elliot and MC Lyte.  However, the media and the rap industry have not embraced the wealth of female talent that exists outside this select circle. They are on the microphone, off-camera, building schools and community programs, and behind the scenes holding weighty positions at the top of the industry’s professional food chain. Yet many remain tucked away, Hip-Hop’s own “Hidden Figures,” as anonymous. In our eyes, and those of their community, they are shining stars who should have respectful acknowledgment.  Their efforts in the United States, and globally demand some type of worldwide wake-up call that will motivate and remind the world that there are women who have bravely navigated Hip-Hop’s sexist system, and became successful at the same time, without having to bare all. Fresh, Bold and So Def honors, advocates, and cultivates the contributions and diversity of women in hip-hop.


In order for the Hip-Hop Education field to grow and become sustainable, hip-hop must be officially acknowledged by the United States government and established as national cultural treasure worthy of study and practice in K-16 public schools. The HHEC has been working closely with politicians, grassroots organization and collectives, parents, educators, and students internationally to integrate hip-hop culture as an interdisciplinary, culturally relevant and responsive teaching subject and tool.


The HHEC has been at the forefront of generating academic research and evaluation reports to support initiatives around the use of hip-hop as an effective pedagogical tool. The HHEC has published field reports, presented successful hip-hop-based education models at a variety of teaching and learning conferences. We convene with seasoned practitioners to guide our research, determine best practices, develop goals and standards, and assess the needs of the field. We began our research with a national scan of hip-hop programs in collaboration with New York University’s  Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools. Since then we have collaborated with dozens of institutions and organizations including, Teacher’s College Institute for Urban and Minority Education, Stanford University, and Annie E. Casey Foundation.


We are social entrepreneurs and creative change agents. Since the launch of the HHEC, we have been cultivating like-minded problem solvers, education innovators, and social entrepreneurs to develop the next generation of leaders and hip-hop education ideas. Through our Fellows and Scholars Program, we have supported over 100 projects and initiatives.  Our visiting scholar program supports international research, scholarship, and community programming projects. Scholars have visited from Japan, South Africa, United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Canada, Ukraine, and France.


The HHEC is spearheading social change through the development of the first online — Communiversity — whereby the community and university come together to develop a centralized hub and international alliance. Utilizing hip-hop culture as a social engineering tool, HHEC Communiversity is a one of kind platform where Hip-Hop educators, teaching artists, scholars, social workers, and students can share research and resources; publish, market and sell educational material; and, archive and preserve hip-hop and their own history.


The Hip-Hop Education Think Tank is critical to development of the movement, as it brings together Hip-Hop scholars, pioneers, business and community leaders, administrators, social workers, and seasoned k-12 teachers to exchange information, assess research data and curricular models, coalition-build, and collective engage in a political and economic strategy to formalize the field.


Through our professional development services and sponsored events, we share resources and provide tools for educators and teaching artists to implement hip-hop education in their classrooms and communities.