The Work


The Hip-Hop Education Center catalyzes social change and equity by influencing the field of education to be more inclusive and culturally responsive to students through research, leadership building, and development of the first online Hip-Hop Communiversity, whereby the community and university form a centralized international alliance to re-imagine education.


The HHEC has worked for over seven years to define and map the fledgling field of Hip-Hop education through research, professional development, and four international Think Tanks. To that end, the HHEC has identified promising, research supported models and practices that are successfully producing demonstrable improvements in educational outcomes in areas including; S.T.E.A.M., social and emotional learning, academic literacy, and high school graduation rates. HHEC projects are addressing youth development concerns such as self-esteem, confidence, academic self-concept, voice and identity formation. Our strategy is to expand our initiatives to propel our vision and illustrate the impact of our leaders.


Formed in 2010, our objective is to cultivate hip-hop educators and advocate for the use of hip-hop-based education in public schools to increase the number of high school and college graduates, reduce incarceration rates and youth recidivism, and build equitable learning cultures that lead to employment and business opportunities.


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.


Our role as curators and connectors can be traced 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, Urban Word NYC, 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. It is important to reclaim our stories and counter the dominant narrative within hip-hop culture by acknowledging and celebrating those courageous women leaders. 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 advocate for the integration of 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.


Utilizing hip-hop culture as a social engineering tool, HHEC Communiversity is a one of kind multimedia digital library designed for students and Hip-Hop educators, teaching artists, scholars, social workers, and industry professionals can share research projects and manage 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 collectively engage in a political and economic strategy to formalize the field.


Through our professional development services and sponsored events, we share information, resources, and tools with educators, teaching artists, cultural leaders, scholars, and pre-service teachers.