Rock to the Future Receives $50,000 National Award to Expand Free Music and Mentoring Programs for Philly Youth
PHILADELPHIA, PA – January 3, 2023 – Out of the 249 nationwide applicants,
Philadelphia-based Rock to the Future has been selected as a top ten awardee for the
prestigious Lewis Prize for Music Catalyst Award. The Catalyst Award grants $50,000 to leaders and programs with impressive impact and reach that focus on creative youth development. Inequitable systems often fail to prioritize music learning in young people’s lives. As a result, too many young people are not supported to express themselves creatively. This stifles young people’s potential to become powerful citizens, who through musical pursuits, learn to contribute positively to their communities. With this funding, Rock to the Future will expand their highly impactful music and mentoring programs in public schools, community locations, juvenile justice facilities, and intervention programs to support coordinated anti-violence efforts.
Rock to the Future 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 North Philadelphia with 13 students, enrollment rapidly grew, and Rock to the Future now serves over 600 children and teens annually through after-school, in-school, and summer programs. Rooted in equity, all of the programs are provided at no cost for students through partnerships with schools, community locations, and juvenile justice facilities.
Rock to the Future works with resilient young people in neighborhoods affected by poverty and
violence. Their programs combine exciting, student-driven music programming – like learning
guitar, bass, drums, piano, music production, original songwriting, and live performance – with
education, mentoring, and social services support. In safe spaces, youth build social and
intellectual capital and life skills which supports high school graduation, college and trade school participation, peer relationships, and personal well-being. Thousands of community members celebrate the talents and achievements of local youth through dozens of free performances each year. Rock to the Future is currently working with the Juvenile Justice Services Center to expand programs in their facility and is building a youth-led music studio in Hunting Park through a partnership with As I Plant This Seed.
“With gun violence at an all time high, all help is needed,” said Ron Fuller from the Juvenile
Justice Service Center, one of Rock to the Future’s partners. “All this good work with no cost.
You just don’t find that type of commitment nowadays. Residents can’t wait until programming
day to work on new music. Rock to the Future came through for our children.”
Rock to the Future envisions that youth in Philadelphia will unlock their fullest potential through their music-based youth development programs. Since their inception, 100% of their
after-school participants have pursued professional career paths. Rock to the Future’s
high-quality programs are a catalyst for individual success, economic empowerment, and safe
and thriving communities.
Founded in 2018 by philanthropist Daniel R. Lewis, The Lewis Prize for Music believes young
people with access to high-quality music learning, performance, and creation opportunities will
mature into thriving individuals. By supporting music leaders across the country to continue their great work, The Lewis Prize for Music hopes to inspire other partners to work together to ensure every young person has the opportunity to access transformative music learning, performance, and creation.