Rock to the Future Pride Statement

June is Pride Month, a time set aside to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ Community. It is great to use this time to reflect on how far we as a nation have grown in recent years, to celebrate the resilience of queer community members in the face of injustices, and encourage queer people to be their authentic selves. While the LGBTQIA+ community has a lot to celebrate, it is important to recognize that the fight is not over. 

Pride began as a protest. On June 28th 1969, the New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn. This started a 6 day long protest that ignited the LGBTQ rights movement across the nation. It is famously known that the first brick was thrown by Marsha P. Johnson, a trans woman of color. This rebellion was a stand for dignity, respect, and for queer people to be afforded the rights of every other American. 

With anti-LGBTQ bills sweeping the nation, specifically anti-trans bills aimed at children, and a rhetoric of “Don’t Say Gay'' echoing louder and louder, it is important now more than every to stand beside our friends and family members that are part of that community to let them know that they are seen and valued. Pride is a time to highlight the push for progress, the struggles that remain, and the joy, beauty, and infinite contributions of the queer community. 

We strive to create a safe space where all members of our community feel empowered to be their authentic selves. We want everyone to know that Rock to the Future is not afraid to say gay. We stand with the LGBTQ communities not just in June, but year round. 

In honor of Pride Month and the Stonewall Anniversary, Rock to the Future is making a $250 donation to the Attic Youth Center, a local nonprofit that supports LGBTQ youth. We ask that you consider making a donation as well. 

Thank You, 

Jessica Craft 
CEO + Founder

Music for All Ball is a Resounding Success

Rock to the Future "Plays for Peace" at Music for All Ball

Raising $110,000 to Support Peaceful Ecosystems for Philly Youth

In a world often marked by discord and division, the universal language of music emerges as a beacon of unity and healing. This is precisely what Music for All Ball achieved in its latest milestone event. With the resounding theme of "Playing for Peace" and a star-studded lineup of performers, including Rock to the Future students, The Bacon Brothers, Sug Daniels, Natasha Felder, Reef the Lost Cauze, and emcee Quentin Miller, this extraordinary gala wasn't just a celebration of music; it was a testament to the power of harmony and the commitment to change lives. In this blog, we'll take you on a captivating journey through Music for All Ball's remarkable successes and the transformative impact of "Playing for Peace."

Raising $110,000 for Change: Music for All Ball hit a high note by raising an impressive $110,000, a testament to the collective belief in the power of music to change lives. These funds will be instrumental in expanding programs to areas impacted by violence and within the Juvenile Justice Services Center, offering a lifeline to youth who deserve a brighter future.

The Resounding Theme "Playing for Peace" Unveiled: Playing for Peace" encapsulated the evening's purpose — to use music not only as a form of entertainment but as a means of advocating for peace, unity, and positive change. The theme underscored Music for All Ball's mission to address the challenges of violence and unrest in our communities, offering a message of hope through music.



A Star-Studded Lineup:  Rock to the Future Students took the stage, showcasing their dedication and the transformative power of music education. Philly legends,  The Bacon Brothers, graced the event with their presence and their hit "Philly Thing," produced in collaboration with RTTF students, further amplifying the evening's message of unity. Rising local talent Sug Daniels mesmerized the audience with their soulful melodies and a commitment to positive change. Board member Natasha Felder lent her support and talent, contributing to the evening's atmosphere of inspiration. And local rap legend Reef the Lost Cauze brought his unique voice and energy to the stage, adding to the diverse musical tapestry of the event.

Gathering for a Purpose: Music for All Ball provided an exceptional opportunity for supporters and music lovers to gather and connect with a shared goal — to make a difference through music. Attendees had the chance to network, collaborate, and find common ground, reinforcing the idea that music can bridge divides and foster unity.

Rock to the Future family attends Music for all Ball and pose with guitars.


Music for All Ball's triumphant celebration of "Playing for Peace" serves as a reminder that music is more than just entertainment; it's a powerful force for change and healing. With an impressive fundraising effort of $110,000, this event has set the stage for transformative programs in areas impacted by violence and within the Juvenile Justice Services Center. The star-studded lineup, including Rock to the Future students, The Bacon Brothers, Sug Daniels, Natasha Felder, and Reef the Lost Cauze, illustrated the diverse and unifying power of music. As we reflect on this remarkable night, we are reminded that when we play for peace, we harmonize hope, and together, we can create a better world through the universal language of music.



Special thank you to all Music for All Sponsors for believieng in the Magic of Music with us and for helping to make this year's Music for All Ball one to remember. Thank you: MOR Wealth Management, John and Adele Cummins, Justamere Foundation, Circle Thrift, Nexa, Rob and Stacey Katz, EisnerAmper, The Mastermind Coop, Ceisler Media, Brolik, Russo Music, Port Richmond Bank, and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Save the date for our next Music for All Ball, happening Saturday, April 20, 2023 at World Cafe Live. Interesting and sponsoring or supporting this event? Contact our Institutional Relations Manager at
Relive the night and check out all of our Music for All Ball photos HERE.

Rock to the Future Goes to Hollywood! The Kelly Clarkson Show

The Kelly Clarkson Show and Kevin Bacon Show Support for Philly-Based Non-Profit
On a recent episode of the Kelly Clarkson Show, Philadelphia's Rock to the Future had a special appearance, featuring the organization's founder and CEO Jessica Craft, co-founder Josh Craft, program alumni Jared Smith, and Nia Collins-Davenport. The organization provides free music programs for young people, and their appearance on the show highlighted the positive impact that their programs have on the youth of Philadelphia.
Actor and musician Kevin Bacon, who is a long-time supporter of Rock to the Future, also made an appearance on the show. Bacon's involvement with the organization includes collaborations on music projects and upcoming performances.
Rock to the Future's programs offer music education, mentorship, and social services support, all at no cost to over 700 youth in Philadelphia. Their offerings include guitar, bass, drums, piano, music production, original songwriting, and live performance. By providing safe spaces for students to learn and create, the organization helps build social and intellectual capital, life skills, and personal well-being.
Rock to the Future's appearance on the Kelly Clarkson Show and the support of Kevin Bacon showcase the organization's commitment to empowering young people through music.
As Kevin Bacon notes, “the goal isn’t to make them the next rock stars, but it’s to make them feel like the next rock stars.” The Bacon Brothers’ Six Degrees initiative shines a light on organizations like Rock to the Future, inspiring others to support their own communities.
“We’re proud to partner with Rock to the Future and help spread the word about their impact on young lives in Philadelphia,” said Kevin Bacon. “We hope this song and our collaboration will inspire others to learn more about the organization and support their mission.”
As the organization continues to grow and expand its reach, it is clear that their programs have a positive impact on the youth of Philadelphia. We can't wait to see what exciting collaborations and performances are in store for Rock to the Future in the future!

Music For All Ball featuring Natasha

We are excited to introduce our next featured performer for the Music For All Ball - Natasha!   Born and raised in Philadelphia, Natasha was introduced to music education while attending the Philadelphia School District, where she played the clarinet and became a member of the All City Music program. She continued her music studies throughout her academic career and is now classically trained in vocal performance.   Natasha is a proud graduate of University City High School, Lincoln University of PA, Saint Joseph’s University, and Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Her passion for helping young people led her to work for the past 17 years with several organizations and non-profits  like Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project, where she served as a Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellow and developed a toolkit to improve representation for girls in the adult criminal justice system.   Join us on April 29 at World Cafe Live for the Rock to the Future - Music for All Ball, where Natasha and many other special guests will be performing alongside our talented students.     Tickets are now on sale!   

“Philly Thing” Takes the City by Storm


As the Philadelphia Eagles gear up for the Super Bowl, a new phrase “It’s a Philly Thing” is taking the city by storm. But for local non-profit Rock to the Future and the Bacon Brothers, this phrase represents much more than just a football team. The Bacon Brothers, including renowned actor Kevin Bacon, recently joined forces with Rock to the Future to write and record a new song of the same name, “Philly Thing.” This collaboration was a perfect marriage between their desire to give back to their hometown and Rock to the Future’s mission of providing free music education and mentorship to young people in communities across Philadelphia.

Rock to the Future’s programs offer young people opportunities to connect with professional musicians, receive educational and personal support, and get exposure to the music industry. As Kevin Bacon notes, “the goal isn’t to make them the next rock stars, but it’s to make them feel like the next rock stars.”

The Bacon Brothers’ Six Degrees initiative shines a light on organizations like Rock to the Future, inspiring others to support their own communities. “We’re proud to partner with Rock to the Future and help spread the word about their impact on young lives in Philadelphia,” said Kevin Bacon. “We hope this song and our collaboration will inspire others to learn more about the organization and support their mission.”

Rock to the Future has also been a community partner of the Philadelphia Eagles since 2016, as part of the Eagles Care Initiative. This partnership has provided Rock to the Future with financial support, professional development opportunities, access to NFL events, and peer-to-peer networking with other local organizations. It has allowed Rock to the Future to positively impact the surrounding community and continue its mission of providing free music education to under-resourced neighborhoods.

Rock to the Future selected as Top Ten in Nation!

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.

Be An Instrument for Change: Reason8

Every day, as we see rising violence and trauma impacting young people, we are reminded of the pressing need for change in our communities. Rock to the Future proudly stands as a Community Arts Leader grounded in more than a decade of providing proven transformative music, academic, and developmental opportunities that work! As we grow our program to double the number of students served this year, we urgently call on you to join our efforts and Be an Instrument for Change!

Being one means being intentional about using your resources to invest in young people's futures. It means recognizing yourself as a powerful resonator capable of shifting realities. 

Resonation is a defining element of an instrument.  It happens when the vibrations of one object cause a second object with a similar vibrating frequency to start vibrating at a higher frequency. Likewise, when humans resonate, we connect through shared experience, developing compassion, empathy, and understanding, and those qualities drive our actions to create a better world for all.

What’s your reason for resonating with us?

Because of your support, we are doing incredible work beyond music education. In addition to exciting music opportunities, our programs offer higher education and academic support, pathways to professional careers, individual resource assistance, and social-emotional learning at no cost to participants. We also develop unique partnerships with organizations such as the Juvenile Justice Center and the Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia, so we can directly serve students impacted by crime. 

With that said, we won’t just give you a reason – we will give you 8 reasons to resonate, aka REASON8. Tune in each week as we share fascinating new stories demonstrating our work's impact.


We challenge you to find the reason that most resonates with you, then choose to invest in our work by donating to our fundraiser – Be An Instrument for Change! The impact of your resonating qualities will amplify our program's quality and capability and be a critical part of helping young people vibrate higher. Together, with you as an instrument for change, we will make beautiful sounds that create a beautiful ballad for change. 

Invest in young people’s Futures today. All Donations up to $50,000 will be matched.

Watch all weekly videos on Youtube. and Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Watch REASON8 Youtube Playlist



What is “Be an Instrument for Change”?

Be an Instrument for change is the campaign title for Rock to the Future current fundraiser. Rock to the Future calls on all supporters to be an instrument for change by supporting our current work by donating by Dec 31, 2022 at Link. All donations will be matched up to $50,000. 

An instrument for change is someone who intentionally shares their resources to pursue an aim to make a change in an area they are passionate about transforming. Rock to the Future’s Instruments for Change are changemakers in music education, higher education, and fostering opportunities to support students impacted by crime and poverty.

What is Reason8?

The word Resonate has various meanings in this campaign

The first is the challenge for Rock to the Future supporters to find the part of our program that resonates most with them - What reason do you resonate with?

The second metaphorically compares the musical definition of resonation with human exchange. Resonance is an essential component of the physics of an instrument (Be an Instrument For Change). Whenever the vibrations of one object cause a second object with similar frequencies to start vibrating, the second object is said to be resonating with the first. This resonating part of the instrument helps to determine many important aspects of the instrument's sound, and they connect in meaningful ways which drive impactful outcomes.

The third meaning of the word Resonate is a play on words that combines the first and second meanings mentioned above. There are 8 weeks in the campaign, and each week we will release new content that focuses on a program area or new reason. When you put Reason (what’s your reason to resonate) and 8 (8-week campaign countdown)  together, you get Reason8 (resonate). 

How will the funds raised support our mission?

Through music, we provide a bridge to well-being, professional pathways and economic empowerment, and violence reduction. As we continue our high-impact existing programs, new priorities include: 

Providing more access: Grow our MobileMusic locations in areas impacted by violence and poverty, with a focus on new areas that lack access to current locations due to distance (West Philadelphia, Southwest Philadelphia). We anticipate adding 5+ locations this year and an additional 5+ the following year. 

Reducing violence and recidivism: Strengthen our Juvenile Justice Center pipeline for when youth are released from the facility to provide an ongoing support system and workforce development opportunities.

Increasing economic empowerment: Strengthen our Ready for the Future program by providing additional paid workforce and skill development opportunities, additional college and trade school supports, and partnership building to provide additional financial resources for our youth to achieve professional pathways.

Increasing overall well-being: Strengthen our holistic support through individual assistance with housing, health, food, and other youth and families' needs. 

If You Support a Non-Profit, Read This: What is Impact and Who Defines It?

Defining impact is complicated. A broad definition may consider the measurable changes due to an intervention. Depending on who you ask about the impact (Team, Participants, Donors, Board, Volunteers, etc.), your answer may differ. 

Measuring impact allows us to clearly define and shape the way we plan and invest in programs we can prove are making considerable change, which is what we all want. Even more so, it is essential for an organization and all persons involved to have a clear understanding and inclusive voice in defining the impact its programming intends to achieve. 

Far too often in nonprofit work, Participant's perspectives on the issues, solutions, and their evaluation of the intervention when defining impact are not considered. The power dynamics, or widely accepted perception of impact, often paints the picture that impact is the result of the action done by active persons (nonprofits and donors) and the perceived/measured results for the passive persons (Participants). 

This perception fits into Oxford Language’s definition of impact: To have a strong effect on someone or something. 

But consider this other definition from Oxford: The action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another.


Impact is the result of and happens to all parties involved. What if we dismantled our widely accepted power dynamics of reporting impact and began to include all parties in our definitions and evaluations of impact? I believe when this happens, we will be able to have a more transparent conversation about what it takes to achieve actual impact.

Impact refers to the grander mission an organization aims to achieve. At Rock to the Future, we recognize the deeply entrenched inequities that deprive communities of critical opportunities. In 2010 when we launched our programs, we defined impact as offering music education for free. Our definition evolved because we learned inequities bear far-reaching, long-lasting, and complicated consequences that a music education program alone would not address.

For example, In 2015, Rock to the Future had its first cohort of graduates. Consequently, we began to understand our student's continued needs were pressing, and our ability to serve those needs was still possible. As rewarding as it was to see our students graduate, to make an impact, our programs needed to evolve to offer opportunities to impact our student's lifelong wellbeing. Our programs began to shift, and we brought in educators and social workers in addition to music instructors to guide our students with post-graduation needs, emotional conflict resolution, and workforce development skill building.

Today, 100% of graduates pursue college or trade school, students have reported significant Social and Emotional development, and several alumni students are staff members and board members. But, our work is still far from finished if we are talking about impact.

For us to truly make an impact, it is as essential for all stakeholders to understand our impact goals as it is for them to make monetary contributions. Creating lifelong well-being for students needs a community of people changing their social and economic practices, especially if they are persons of power. If we are talking about inequities, we must understand that actual change cannot happen without us all taking responsibility and shifting to more inclusive practices. Impact must happen to all stakeholders.

An alumni student reached out to us with a need to develop a pathway to career opportunities. A passionate supporter of Rock to the Future, DiPinto Guitars offered to work with the alumni student and us. We offered our alumni student a paid internship where he could build technical skills. He now works with DiPinto Guitars part-time and is a guitar tech for a popular band.

Again, we know that the work it takes to make an impact is strenuous and complicated, and the pathway to "success" is not always a straight and positive line. And we are committed to the ever-evolving work, and we hope to inspire transparency so all stakeholders are in agreement and have a voice in how impact is defined and evaluated.

Wanting to make a difference, impact, and be impacted is wonderful. But, now, we must ask ourselves, are we willing and able to be patient and invested enough in the process of reaching that goal together?

If you have not done so, check out our most recent impact report! Featured in this report are measured outcomes and impact from our 2021/2022 program year.

You can find the report here.


Experiencing Donor Fatigue? Get Inspired by this RTTF Summer Recap

The first thing we think about when it comes to summer is graduation! Nothing kicks off the summer like celebrating the end of a 12+ year journey in pure triumph with all of your family, friends, and community around you. We know the journey isn't easy. You know the routine: Waking up at the crack of dawn, catching the school bus or public transportation, taking an hour-long ride or trek to school, making it to homeroom by 8:15am, and then having a full active day of English, algebra, calculus, history, etc. (I'm getting tired just thinking of it). And then, if you are lucky, have the opportunity to indulge in an after-school activity where you can breathe life into a skill of your choice, connect with a community of like-minded friends and learn life-long skills. You know, after-school programs like Rock to the Future! (Wink Wink)

That is why we are so proud of all of our graduating seniors! Did you know since we began our program, 100% of students from our MusiCore After School program have graduated high school and pursued college or trade school? It is phenomenal. We celebrate our students by giving them a scholarship and a MacBook to help them with their post-grad plans. It's also our way of simply saying we are proud of you. This year thanks to our supporters, we raised $10,000, and we gifted this to our 6 graduating seniors pursuing careers in psychology, music technology, computer sciences, HVAC, and more.


After celebrating a successful year and our graduating seniors, we moved briskly onto jumpstarting our summer camps – free to attend, plus breakfast, lunch, and transportation passes provided. Four weeks of a full-day camp feature instrument lessons (bass, guitar, drums, and keys), band practice, creative workshops, and more – like workshops with The Antiviolence Partnership of Philadelphia and Vote That Jawn. And get this, through a new partnership with Philadelphia Youth Network eligible students GOT PAID up to $1,000 when they completed creative skill development and career exposure opportunities such as writing a song, learning graphic design, producing a beat, or performing in their summer showcase! 

Developing pathways to professional and economic empowerment opportunities is critical because we recognize the communities we serve are in high-need areas. Some families we work with face financial hardships, making access to basic needs difficult, let alone access to high-quality music education programs. We envision that our students' money will help them with upcoming back to school school needs such as uniforms and supplies. But also imagine that the money they make can be enjoyed on the simple pleasures they want and will relieve a (very small) financial need for their parents. 


As I write this on a 106 degree day, drained by the summer heat, I am reminded of a term I recently learned: donor fatigue. Unfortunately, the reality is that some supporters grow tired of contributing to non-profits or charitable organizations after having done it for some time. I don't like that term, not because the condition may not exist, but when you have an organization that is dedicated to addressing inequity issues a community faces, we must realize there is no space or time to lean into your fatigue in a way that draws you away from an organization you believe in. That community cannot say “I'm fatigued by being under-resourced and ready to be... resourced.” Not without our help. Not without your help. 


We were able to gift our students scholarships because of you. We were able to offer free summer camps and give away free instruments because of you. We were able to pay our students because of you. We will be able to do that and more next year because of YOU!

So thank you in advance. And lean into all of the summer vacations you have coming your way. And then come back to join us this upcoming school year on our journey of creating impactful programs and changing the lives of the students we serve through music education. 

Also, don't forget to join us on August 28th at Manayunk Brewery for our Summer Social. We will reveal our impact report, go into more detail about our summer and previous school year, and also fill you in on the work we plan for this upcoming program year.  RSVP Here 

Happy Summer!


More programs, new partners – Summer 2022!

We have some incredible things happening this summer!

This is the first summer we are offering our in-person programs in Germantown! AND we have grown our summer camps to operate 4 full weeks (2 in Kensington, 2 in Germantown). Students learn guitar, bass, drums, piano, write original music with peers in a band, and create in the MakeLab.  Our summer programs now also include Ready for the Future, which includes guest speakers from Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia, Vote that Jawn, and other lifeskill development opportunities.

Last summer, our CEO mentioned to a colleague in the OCF office how we wanted to provide paid workforce and skill development opportunities for our students. In the fall, she sent us an application for the Philadelphia Youth Network partnership. In early 2022, we were accepted as partners.

One year later, we have 55 teens receiving paid skill development opportunities in our music programs and will distribute $50,000+ to young people this summer. Students are learning responsibility, skills like sound production and graphic design, filling out and submitting a "time sheet", and so much more. The power of hard work and partnership bring a vision to reality!

We also excited to provide our exciting music programs for wonderful community partners! This summer, we are serving young people at:

Community partnership is the key to greater impact!