Teamwork, Communication Confidence & Patience

Last Wednesday, We participated in a food drive with Rock to the Future's Teen Leadership Council and ENG Nonprofit. During the event, we passed out food to people that needed it.

We used teamwork by working together to sort the bags and created an assembly line to put multiple items in the bags. We also used communication because we had to let people know about the event, during the event we communicated and told each other where certain food should go, and let the community know about the free items.

We had to be confident in talking to strangers, and recording Facebook Live videos inviting people to come get the food. We used patience by waiting for other team members to complete packing the bags and setting up the table before we got the bags to put in our items. We also had to be patient, waiting in the COLD for people to come pick up food.

All in all, this was a great community service event that utilized the leadership skills we are developing.

Join Rock to the Future's Teen Leadership Council! Dates and details are on our registration page.

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Winter Showcase and Winter Jams

Winter Student Showcase

Rock to the Future students took to the virtual stage in December for the 11th annual Winter Showcase!

Like other Winter Showcases before it, the 2020 showcase brought Rock to the Future's community members, volunteers, staff, and supporters together to celebrate our talented students. Classes played together, in videos of the songs they learned during this semester's virtual programs. Students who created their own original songs in the Hip Hop, Digital Music, and Create with a Pro Musician classes heard their tracks come to life with graphics and animation. The Art and Music and Video Game Creation classes showed off the products of their hard work, and the Ready for the Future club and Teen Leadership Council introduced themselves and let viewers know what they spent the semester planning and learning. To cap it all off, State Representative Mary Isaacson presented Rock to the Future with a Pennsylvania State Citation to recognize 10 years of service in providing accessible music education. Check out the full showcase below, or head to our Youtube page to see individual class performances.

We weren't able to meet in person for our usual pizza party and potluck after the show. Instead, we took the party to Zoom! It was great getting to see everyone's faces, even virtually. Several staff and students performed, including 12th grade student Nia, who blew us all away with her cover of Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah:

Winter Jams 2020

Rock to the Future students released another Jams album! The album is filled with original songs and beats, and was featured in XPN's The Key. Like all student albums, it's free to stream and download on our Bandcamp page.

Thank you students, families, staff, volunteers, and supporters for rocking with us in 2020! We're looking forward to spending another exciting year with you in 2021. Registration for winter semester classes ends January 6, and our next student showcase is right around the corner in March. Plus, don't forget about the annual Music for All Ball in April! Here's to another rocking year!

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Rockstar Nia on Rock to the Future

Guitarist, singer, and high school senior Nia D. performed a cover of Sticky Fingers' Cyclone for Keep Music Alive's virtual Sip, Savor, and Song gala in November:

Nia joined Rock to the Future to explore her passion for music. Since joining, she has played on stage at Union Transfer, World Cafe Live, the Fillmore, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and more as a vocalist for the Student House Band.

Now in her senior year of high school, Nia reflected on her time in Rock to the Future and her hopes going forward:


"For me, Rock to the Future means being able to continue my interest in music. I've always been involved in music, so when there came a point where I no longer had that creative outlet that I needed, my mom searched around and found Rock to the Future. I was able to continue with singing and performing as I had been, and even picked up a few instruments along the way."

"My favorite experience by far has been being in the Student House Band. Student House Band meant being able to expand the types of songs I could perform and exposed me to more varied performance settings than just my school's auditorium."

Nia performing her original song D.I.E. (Does It End) at the 2019 Music for All Ball.


"After my senior year I plan on traveling a bit, then later setting up a home base for any business endeavors and music based things I'd want to do. I'd like to think that I'll become more involved in the management of venues, and maybe even get a chance to regularly perform in them too. Really though, I'm just excited to start trying things out."

Help students like Nia learn, grow, and rock with a donation to Rock to the Future. Your support helps us keep our music programs free for Philly area youth.

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Give the gift of music

Over the past ten years, thousands of children and teens have benefitted from Rock to the Future’s unique and innovative programs. We have seen the magic of music time and time again -- 100% of graduates of our MusiCore After School program have pursued post-secondary education.

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“When I registered Max into Rock to the Future, he did not want to join any programs. I told him, ‘Give it a try, if you don’t like it then you don’t have to do it,’ but I secretly knew that he was going to enjoy it. What I didn’t know was how much it would help him. After he started I noticed that he became more responsible with his homework, schoolwork, and chores, became more social with his fellow classmates, and even acquired time management skills.

- Yudeliz V, guardian of 9th grade student Max

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While gearing up for our ten year anniversary celebration, the pandemic put our plans on hold. With your support, we launched online programs in April to keep students like Max connected, learning, and creating from home through instrument lessons, classes in music production, and one-on-one academic tutoring. Donors like you ensure that we can give every new student an instrument. We are proud to continue our free music programs so that every student in Philadelphia has the chance to find their voice. Max is able to continue learning music with us online during the shutdown, and we gave him a guitar and drum set to play at home.

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“Max has created a studio on the third floor of our house. He loves to practice and play his instruments. He has learned how to tune and repair them and is not afraid to ask for help when needed. He tells me what he has learned everyday and shares his new learned skills with such joy and confidence that he can accomplish anything.” - Yudeliz V.

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Funding for the arts fluctuates, but Rock to the Future provides consistent music education because all kids need the skills and life lessons learned on stage. Your gift to Rock to the Future helps Philadelphia students to learn, grow, and rock.

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Thanks to two generous donors, all of the donations received before the end of 2020 will be matched up to $40,000. That means your gift is doubled!

Give the gift of music to a Philadelphia student and help the next generation to keep rocking!

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Rocking at home – Instrument Pick Up Day!

Teen holding a pink guitar with matching face mask

With our fall-semester virtual classes starting up, we need to make sure all of our students are prepped and ready to rock! Some awesome volunteers spent a Sunday in our office above Fireball Printing in Kensington to spruce up our instrument collection. With our ukuleles, guitars, bass guitars, keyboards, and drums cleaned, repaired, and organized, we spent the last week of September passing out instruments to students.

Some students and their families came to our office to pick up instruments. All our instruments were sanitized before being given out, and students signed up for time slots to enforce social distancing. It was great to meet new students, and see returning students in person! We're always happy to see our students through the computer screen, but it's still nice to see our students try out their new instruments in person.

Chief Music Officer Josh also hit the road in the Rock to the Future van to bring instruments to students. With their new instruments, our students are all ready to learn and rock from home!

Thank you to all our instrument donors! Instrument donations help us provide free instruments to Philly students. If you have a guitar, bass, keyboard, or drumset to donate, fill out our online form to donate it to a Philly student. Special thanks to Keep Music Alive, Hungry for Music, and Shane from Swarthmore Boy Scout troop 112, who donated a truck full of instruments as his Eagle project!

Thanks to the volunteers who helped us get instruments ship shape! Because of our awesome volunteers, donors, and supporters, Rock to the Future students are ready for a new semester of rocking from home. You can help us repair donated instruments, purchase instruments and supplies, and pay for deliveries with a donation to Rock to the Future.

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Our Impact! 2019 – 2020 School Year Impact Report

Hello Rock to the Future family,

In 2010, I left the financial services industry to start Rock to the Future as a volunteer organization with only 13 students after school. Through hard work, support from our community, and generous funders, we are now serving hundreds of youth each year through programs in-school, after, school, during the summer, and online. 

Rock to the Future made huge leaps this school year. We won a competitive contract with Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services, developed our third strategic plan with team members, students, volunteers, and board members, and expanded our programs -- including opening our first partner location in West Philly!

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While planning for our 10th year anniversary celebrations, the unexpected COVID pandemic put our physical programs on hold. With feedback from our students and families, we launched online programs to keep students connected, creating, and learning, while also planning for our future. Our virtual programs are helping us reach more students, are supporting digital equity, and are teaching vital digital literacy skills. 

Over ten years our organization, team, and students have achieved so much more than I could have ever imagined.

I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years has in store for us - bring it on!

With Gratitude,

Jessica Craft, CEO and Founder of Rock to the Future

Read the full Impact Report
Check out our 2020-2023 Strategic Plan

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Cool down with chill beats

Cool down with chill beats!

Every year, students in Rock to the Future's MusiCore After School Program record their original songs in professional studios around Philadelphia. Our students weren't able to head into the studio this year, but that didn't stop them from putting out an amazing album!

Check out Summer Beats, a collection of 20 beats made by students in Rock to the Future's digital music production classes. The album is free to stream and download. Give it a listen and find your new summer jam!

Want to make your own beats? We're planning our schedule of virtual music programs for the fall. All of our programs are free for Philadelphia students in grades 4-12, and we have classes for all levels of experience, from beginners to beatmaking pros. Check out our calendar and register today - some classes are listed now, and more are on the way!

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Summer Beats

Rock to the Future's online classes in digital music production teach students to use music software programs, like Soundtrap and Garage Band, to create original songs, beats, and loops. Students learn about music structure, explore the history of digital music production, increase digital literacy, and learn to use computer programs for creativity. Some students try new things and create new beats every class, and others work on their songs until they have a completely finished project. Either way, students are able to try new things. With both month-long classes and drop in workshops, students can create everything from short loops to full songs- all from home!

Check out this video that Rock to the Future student Tavis made showing off one of his beats, followed by beats from some other Digital Music Production students:

Rock to the Future keeps youth connected, creating, and collaborating online! Our virtual music instruction and live streams are made for all levels and some don’t require any experience or instrument ownership. Check out our class schedule and register online.

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Virtual Student Showcase

Rock to the Future proudly presents its 10th annual Student Showcase- this time, it's virtual!

Students from our virtual classes performed over video to show off the music they created and learned this year. You name it, our talented students performed it: a capella songs, piano and guitar performances, digital beats, covers and original songs. Rock to the Future instructor Victoria Watts also played two covers that her students had been practicing before the shutdown in March as a tribute to their hard work.

Thanks for rocking with us this school year! These last few months have been challenging for sure, but it's been so energizing to see the Rock to the Future family rally together around this move to digital programs and socially distanced support.

Online summer programs are still open for sign ups. These classes are free and open to all Philadelphia students. We can help provide an instrument for students who don't have one at home- just let us know in your interest form. Students of all skill levels are welcome: RocktotheFuture.org/Virtual

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Emergency Art Action to Fund Black Futures

Rock to the Future, as a member organization of the newly-formed Artist Coalition for a Just Philadelphia ,will hold an Emergency Art Action to Fund Black Futures on Tuesday June 16 1 - 3pm at the steps of The Philadelphia Museum of Art, coinciding with City Council discussions on the 2021 budget. This action will use the power of artistic expression in the form of music, dance, and visual art to speak out against the complete defunding of arts and culture and increases in police funding. Everyone is invited to join us to express how the arts are essential to our communities and demand a city budget that defends Black lives and culture. The voices of Black, Indigenous, and persons of color artists will be centered and amplified.

Black communities are under attack

as services for parks and recreation, for public health, for the homeless, for education, and for arts and culture are under threat of being defunded by the proposed City of Philadelphia 2021 budget.

Since 2016, funding for the Philadelphia Police Department has continued to grow by $120 million under Mayor Kenney’s tenure. Artist Coalition for a Just Philadelphia demands that the city prioritize equitable funding that supports and strengthens Black communities rather than criminalizing them, including supporting funding for community arts programs through the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

The elimination of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund will devastate hundreds of community-based organizations, many of which already operate on shoestring budgets and in volunteer capacities. Data demonstrates that arts and culture programs support healthy community development, both medically and emotionally, and can decrease these public health crises’ that tax our economy.

The positive impact of grassroots arts and culture organizations is seen, heard, and felt throughout Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. These services are vital and support Philadelphia’s most vulnerable populations. In this current crisis, Black/POC led and serving arts organizations must be supported by demanding the continuation of community arts funding. Artist Coalition for a Just Philadelphia is a collective of grassroots arts organizations committed to using the power of the arts to uplift community voices in the fight for racial, social, and economic justice.

Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/3136257513099524

We are committed to pay all of the artists, musicians, and speakers performing at this event. You can help us make sure artists of color are paid for their time and talent with a donation towards paying our artists: bit.ly/payourartists

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