We couldn’t be happier to share with you that Hip Hop for Change has been awarded the 2020 William J. Zellerbach Award for Social Change (WJZ Award).

Hip Hop for Change, Inc. (HH4C) is an Oakland-based nonprofit organization that uses Hip Hop culture as a vehicle for education, community empowerment, and cultural exchange. HH4C builds community through music, art, and education while using a unique and culturally relevant approach to advance social justice.

Established in 2013, HH4C seeks to serve as an antidote to the array of negative stereotypes associated with corporate Hip Hop music that embrace criminality, sexism, homophobia, and gross materialism. These false representations of Black people presented by the entertainment and media industries legitimize police brutality, systemic racism, and the criminalization of people of color. HH4C responds to this misrepresentation by empowering Bay Area Black and Brown communities through economic self-sufficiency, cultural education, and arts engagement. HH4C has three core programs:

Grassroots Employment Program:  Grassroots staff facilitate over 100 conversations a day to foster relationships with the community, encouraging them to be social advocates through HH4C programs. The employment program has provided a living wage to over 800 community members to deliver cross-cultural communication throughout the Bay Area.

Education Department: The MC: Theory of Hip Hop Evolution, Music and Culture, is a five-part, experiential K-12 and college curriculum that details the history, culture, societal impact, and power of Hip Hop to build sustainable learning platforms for underserved Bay Area students. Local Hip Hop artists are trained to be Hip Hop educators and trauma-informed facilitators while delivering a culturally responsive curriculum. Over 20,000 students have participated in HH4C’s workshops, presentations, assemblies, and full-day conferences. In addition, HH4C has offered over $68,000 in free programming to low-income communities in the region over the past three years.

Social Justice Events: Through performances and panel discussions, HH4C exposes low-income Bay Area audiences to progressive artists and community members to instill narratives of resilience, action, and hope.

HH4C has adapted to the new normal of COVID-19; all staff have been retained and are working remotely, education curriculum has shifted to an on-line platform, and partnerships and programming have been successfully transitioned to virtual platforms. HH4C has suffered a loss in revenue due to the pandemic. Their 2020 budget has shrunk by 37% to $610,000. HH4C receives the majority of its support through public contracts and grants. About ten percent of its funding comes from private grants (ZFF has supported HH4C with four grants totaling $13,300 since 2015).

Awarding this year’s WJZ Award to HH4C is a timely and wonderful acknowledgment of the critical role that arts and culture plays in advancing social change.  The award highlights HH4C’s unique model of engagement and activism and offers increased exposure to the Bay Area’s philanthropic community.