Mission + Vision
Rock to the Future equips Philadelphia youth with life skills to support current and lifelong wellbeing through free, student-driven music programs. Through music, we disrupt cycles of poverty.
We envision that all youth in Philadelphia will unlock their fullest potential through our music-based youth development programs.
Youth will build vital life skills to support current and lifelong well-being through Rock to the Future's unique, equity-based program model.
♪ Strategically located at schools and community locations in areas impacted by systems of oppression including under-resourced schools, high-crime neighborhoods, and juvenile justice centers
♪ No cost for students to participate
♪ No auditions required - beginners are welcome!
♪ All instruments and supplies provided
♪ Meals and transportation provided
♪ Support provided in English and Spanish
♪ Focus on original songwriting, peer collaboration, and live performance
♪ Direct mentoring, academic, and post-secondary education support
♪ Student-driven - youth are included in decision making and program design
♪ Design built on trauma informed approaches, restorative practices, and anti-violence strategies
Research shows that learning music has dozens of positive benefits for youth. You can read the various studies and benefits here.
We know the magic of music is incredible and we see it in the students we serve every day:
♪ Improvements in social emotional learning (SEL) skills like self-awareness, relationship building, communication skills, and responsible decision making
♪ Improvements in executive functioning skills like goal setting, time management, and personal accountability
♪ Growth in confidence and self-expression
♪ Development of technology and workplace-readiness skills
♪ Building school and community pride through celebrating youth accomplishments
♪ Reduced peer conflict by breaking down barriers by bringing students from various neighborhoods together
♪ Since our founding in 2010, we are proud to report that 100% of graduating MusiCore After School students have gone on to post-secondary education
We recognize the increase in crime in Philadelphia and support crime reduction in multiple ways:
- Youth from various neighborhoods come together in a safe space during vital after school and summer hours to create and collaborate
- Youth learn restorative practices and conflict resolution skills which helps them communicate their needs and concerns instead of turning to aggression
- Our programs incorporate “dream building” for youth to visualize themselves in positive ways and we provide the support needed to recognize those dreams
Educational and Workforce Readiness
We believe that professional career paths are essential for life-long well-being:
- 100% of graduates from our after school program pursue professional career paths: college or trade schools
- Graduating students receive a scholarship and a laptop to support their post-high school career and education plans
- Annual college and trade school visitation trips for middle school and high school students; Help with the FAFSA (financial aid) process; Trade and college application support; Scholarship writing support
- Technology and digital inclusion support through learning to use computers and other technology
- Starting in 2022: Paid internship opportunities for high school students
Working and thinking restoratively promotes strong relationship building and understanding, and so there is less need to resort to sanctions and punishments to try to ‘manage’ behavior. Some examples of how we incorporate restorative practices include:
- If a participant uses inappropriate language, we ask “help me to make this a comfortable safe, and productive space for all students by using positive language” instead of focusing on the broken rule ex. “don’t do that”
- Holding mediation sessions when conflict arises and focusing on conversation around who was harmed, apology, and resolution instead of blame and guilt.
Recognizes the presence of trauma symptoms and acknowledges the role trauma may play in an individual's life. Some examples of how we incorporate trauma-informed care include:
- Before each lesson begins, the instructor has a short check-in to get a temperature of how students are feeling and to see who may be in a good mood or bad mood
- During the session, if a student is unwilling to participate or shows disruptive behavior, alternative options are available including an easier activity or spending some time in the “chill zone”
- When each session ends, students are asked to reflect on what they learned and what was difficult and to celebrate their successes over challenges
Rock to the Future (RTTF) was founded in 2010 as a volunteer organization to support positive youth development through community-based music programs in neighborhoods that have been deprived of funding and resources. Beginning in Kensington (North Philadelphia) with 13 students in MusiCore After School, enrollment rapidly grew, and the observed impact was immediate as students continued to return day-after-day. Rock to the Future now serves hundreds of students in grades 3 - 12 from under-resourced zip codes through in-school, after school, summer, and online programs at no cost to participants. Rock to the Future has completed 2 strategic plans and is currently guided by a strategic plan with support from staff, volunteers, board members, students, and partners in 2019.
A song only works when everybody plays their part. We foster teamwork to ensure that when our students take the stage, it’s not how well they play, but how well they play together that matters.
Dedication and hard work apply even after the set is over. Our programs teach students skills to help them grow in school and life.
It takes guts and grit to take the spotlight. Stepping on stage requires the support and freedom to take risks, and we work with our students to feel confident to explore beyond the scales.
We champion the diverse voices of our community. Rock to the Future makes a formal promise to improve our culture, practices, and approaches to uphold diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels of our organization — knowing it requires sustained commitment, courage, and optimism.
Living life to its fullest means owning your solos and expressing yourself. Creative expression is the true soul of music, and we encourage students to discover their unique identity.