“I was on the streets. I had no direction until I connected with hip hop culture.” These are the words of our Artist-Instructors who helped create The Dignity Institute. We had a socio-emotional curriculum, and they had what under-resourced youth related to: hip hop.

Hip hop is not mainstream rap. It is a culture about positivity, creating something out of nothing, knowledge (learning) and the Urban Arts. It is comprised of: Graffiti Art, Spoken Word/Rap, Fashion, Media, DJ-ing and Dance. When you embed conversations about respect, trust, teamwork, empathy and honesty, you get Art that is informed, introspective and inspired.

A youth Program Director of a homeless shelter said: “Our youth were able to connect their heart to their own issues. The art brought something profound out of them. When we meet them, they are fragile and traumatized. This kind of activity helps build their self-worth and self-esteem.”

Our youth tell us: “Dance makes me feel free. I feel like I can do anything.”, “I felt accepted in our classes. Nobody was left out.”, “Writing taps into something inside of me that’s important.”, “Artmaking is scary at first, but then you see a problem in a different way and feel better.”

Hip hop rules.