We’re Growing – Rock to the Future’s New Look

Drumroll please.

After eight years, Rock to the Future is getting a makeover. We think that our new logo, designed by Brolik, perfectly captures the excitement and nervousness of stepping into the spotlight, taking a deep breath, and showing off your hard work on stage for all to see.

Our new logo, courtesy of Brolik.

As nice as a makeover is, the changes to Rock to the Future this year are more than cosmetic. In 2018:
  • Rock to the Future is operating the MobileMusic program in six Philadelphia schools, providing music programs to nearly 200 students during the school day that otherwise had their funding for music programs reduced or cut.

  • The GuitarStars summer camp was so popular, Rock*A*Delphia was opened to 12 year olds in order to accommodate demand. Both summer camps are free for underserved Philadelphia kids and teens.

  • We opened a second MusiCore location in Roosevelt Elementary School in Germantown. Adding MusiCore Germantown has doubled the reach of the MusiCore after school program, and this location accepts students in grades 4 – 8, meaning that students can stay involved with Rock to the Future’s ambitious after-school program for a longer period of time than ever before.

  • Rock to the Future is excited to strengthen our partnership with the School District of Philadelphia as we grow. Our MusiCore Kensington location recently moved to Kensington High School, bringing music back to the school and serving students from all over Philadelphia.

MusiCore Kensington uses Kensington High School’s stage for band practice. Session mixers from our partnership with Reverb Gives let two bands practice at the same time; bands plug their instruments and headphones into the same mixer and can only hear each other. Meanwhile, volunteer mentor Syderick helps students with their essays in the homework room in Kensington High School’s library.

  • We want our staff to grow along with our programs. We train our staff and teachers in trauma informed practices, classroom management, and other mentoring skills. Our staff builds a support system for students’ social and emotional development that allows kids to try new things in a safe space.

  • The MusiCore program recently received a multi-year grant from United Way. Rock to the Future was honored to be recognized as one of the organization’s supporting United Way’s goals of ending intergenerational poverty by keeping youth connected to school.
  • Students saw huge academic success while they strengthened their social skills and musical ability. Once again, all of our graduating MusiCore seniors started college this fall, and the Higher Education Fund provided $3,000 in scholarships.

  • Student bands had unique experiences with music industry professionals. The Rock to the Future House Band wrote and recorded an original song with Blind Melon guitarist Rogers Stevens, performed with musicians at the Music for All Ball, and were featured in Revolver magazine for their collaboration with shoegaze band Nothing.

Rock to the Future’s in-school, after-school, and summer programs use music as the foundation for kids and teens to learn life skills that help them grow. Studies show that music education is not only a positive outlet for emotion, but also improves executive functions (memory, organization, planning, and self-monitoring) which build academic confidence and self-esteem.

These are just some highlights from this year- every time a Rock to the Future student masters a new drum beat, aces their biology homework, captures their feelings with song lyrics, or strengthens a friendship, Rock to the Future thrives. Whether a student learns in-school, after-school, or over the summer, Rock to the Future students learn that being a rock star requires dedication, practice, and hard work. We’re excited to keep growing. Thank you for growing with us!


Nothing frontman Dominic Palermo on making a difference with Rock to the Future

Somehow, between rehearsing with Rock to the Future students, sharing guitar tips, and playing on stage at the 2018 Music for All Ball, Domenic Palermo and Nothing found the time to release a new album.

Nothing’s third album, Dance on the Blacktop, is available now. In an interview with Revolver, Domenic talked about working with the RTTF House Band:

“It’s cool to be able to try to be a positive role model for somebody who might need one… These kids got talent, they’ve got great heads on their shoulders.”

Nothing and the RTTF House Band rehearsing Bent Nail at an open house in November 2017.

The RTTF House Band had a blast working with Nothing and seeing how music can help kids from any background to blaze their own path – plus, they still rock their Nothing swag at every opportunity. You can read the whole article about Domenic on Revolver (the article is NSFW), and check out Revolver’s video of the RTTF House Band meeting Nothing and rehearsing Bent Nail.


Summer Camps 2018

Once again, our summer campers braved a hot Philly July to spend a week playing music, jamming with their peers, and writing songs.

We’re always amazed by how much Rock to the Future summer campers can accomplish during their time at camp! From meeting new friends and writing songs together to learning an instrument and playing it on stage, GuitarStars and Rock*A*Delphia campers know that rocking out means working hard and stepping outside of your comfort zone.

Photographs by Chris Kendig Photography

GuitarStars and Rock*A*Delphia are week long day camps at Rock to the Future’s Kensington location. Campers practice their choice of instrument in group lessons, learn vocal techniques in the choral ensemble, and attend workshops and performances from professional musicians. Both camps end with a showcase performance. Campers are always excited perform their original songs live on stage for friends and family!

Rock to the Future summer camps use music to inspire kids and teens to find what they love and who they want to be. Check back next year for 2019 summer camp registration, and thanks for rocking with us this summer!


Rockstar Scholarship Fund – $3,000 in College Scholarships for Rising Stars!

In June, Rock to the Future awarded the second year of Higher Education Fund scholarships. The fund, established in honor of Jaime and Andrew Katz, provided $3,000 in scholarships to three underserved Philadelphia teens from Rock to the Future’s MusiCore Kensington graduating class to attend college or trade school this fall. The awards honor the students’ academic and personal achievements made while taking part in MusiCore Kensington.

For the sixth year in a row 100% of graduating MusiCore Kensington students will attend post-secondary education.

“My goal for the future is to become a music teacher so that I can have the same impact on younger kids’ lives that my teachers have had on mine,” – Rock to the Future’s Youth Leadership Council President and vocalist Alexus Arthur.

Alexus always loved music, but her shyness made performing in public seem impossible. She joined the MusiCore after school program in eighth grade, and she’s been playing the keyboard and singing ever since. Now, Alexus can take the stage with no hesitation. This June, she performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH for the third year in a row. 

“I have always believed that music has the power to change someone’s life for the better. However, others believe that students are products of their community, and that where they live determines who they become. I want to be the type of music teacher that uses music to help students realize that they have multiple options when it comes to deciding who they want to be in life and that they have the power to be greater than their community.” – Alexus

This year, $3,000 was awarded to three graduating students. The Highest Achievement Award of $1,300 was presented to Alexus, who worked hard to improve her grades over the past five years with the goal of becoming a first-generation college graduate- Alexus will study music education at York College this fall. The Most Improved Award of $1,200 was given to bassist Lydia Monteiro, who plans to study Computer Science at Community College Philadelphia, with the goal of transferring to Drexel University. Pianist Richard Chase received the Highest Achievement Runner Up award and will receive $500 to study criminal justice at Canisius College. All graduating seniors were also given a MacBook Air, courtesy of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

At Rock to the Future, we know that the lessons that students learn on stage can apply throughout their lives. That’s why our programs are completely free for underserved Philadelphia youth. At Rock to the Future, students learn that being a rockstar requires dedication, practice, and hard work. As a result, Rock to the Future students are prepared to take on any stage.

All photographs by Chris Kendig Photography


Hear Original Songs from the MusiCore Student Bands

The 2017-2018 MusiCore recordings are here!

Every year, MusiCore Kensington student bands work together to write original songs in whatever style and genre they like. The songwriting process is hard— bands need to collaborate to write music and lyrics that everyone can jam to. As a result, every MusiCore song is as unique as the students that write them!

Then, the bands head to professional studios to record and mix their songs. MusiCore Kensington students spent three days at Miner Street Recordings. Their hard work payed off— it’s hard to put this album down! You can download all eight songs for free on the Rock to the Future Bandcamp page.

MusiCore’s pilot expansion location at Roosevelt Elementary in Germantown also got in on the action. The two student bands recorded at Rittenhouse Soundworks, and even recorded a remix! Their three songs are available to download on the Rock to the Future Bandcamp page. Check them out!

MusiCore will start back up in September. If you are interested in learning to play drums, guitar, bass guitar, or keyboards (plus forming a band, writing and recording music, and learning about music theory and digital music), register for the 2018-2019 MusiCore Kensington program.


RTTF House Band Live at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

This June, the RTTF House Band had the opportunity to play a live set at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The RTTF House Band took the stage as part of Hungry for Music’s Instrument Drive & Concert, which collects gently used instrument donations and distributes them to aspiring musicians around the globe. That includes Rock to the Future- Hungry for Music has donated countless guitars, keyboards, drum sets and basses for Rock to the Future students to rock on (a recent donation even included a keytar!).

After an arduous, 9-hour-long drive through the rain with a van packed full of equipment, the RTTF House Band spent the weekend exploring Cleveland and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Students from the Hendrix Music Academy, Campus International, the Salvation Army Youth, and Franklin Preparatory Steel Band also jammed on stage.

The RTTF House Band has been fine-tuning their set list of rock and pop all year during MusiCore, and it shows! They jammed on everything from Whitney Houston to Rage Against the Machine. Check them out:

We are so grateful to be included in Hungry for Music’s Instrument Drive. Not only is it super cool to play at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but the concert was a great send-off for the House Band’s four graduating seniors- Alexus, Jared, Lydia, and Richard. Congrats grads!


The Music for All Ball ROCKED

The 5th annual Music for All Ball was a blast!

Hosted by guest emcee Jammin’ Jessie of Radio 104.5, Philly musicians teamed up with Rock to the Future students to play one-of-a-kind collaborations in the historic Painted Bride’s Old City theater. Everyone enjoyed awesome food and drink from honeygrow, Bota Box, Original XII Ciderworks, and Sterling Pig Brewery, plus hit up the selfie station and scored some unique auction prizes – all while supporting music education!

The 90-minute variety show featured classic covers and original songs by hip hop artist Chill Moody, Rogers Stevens of iconic alt-rock band Blind Melon, Domenic Palermo of shoegaze band NOTHING, and orchestral psych-folk outfit Grandchildren, plus a special VIP performance by jazz and blues musician Christopher Davis-Shannon.

Rock to the Future’s awesome supporters blew our fundraising goal away – the Music for All Ball raised over $47,000 to support music education at RTTF. The generosity of our supporters means that hundreds of underserved Philadelphia kids and teens will have access to free and affordable music education in 2018 – and that rocks!

Thank you to our supporters, sponsors, and attendees! We’re already looking forward to next year’s ball.


Making the Song: House Band and Weathervane Music Team Up To Record

Behind-the-scenes with Rogers Stevens and the RTTF House Band at Miner Street Recordings.

In April, the Rock to the Future House Band went into Miner Street Recordings to record their original song, Without You, withWeathervane Music Organization and Blind Melon’s Rogers Stevens.

While the whole band helped write the song, guitarist Marc wrote the melody and vocalist Alexus wrote the lyrics. Alexus says that she was inspired by her experiences to write a song about the ways that her friendships have evolved and changed through high school.

Weathervane Music Organization helped the House Band record and mix Without You professionally at Miner Street Recordings, right around the corner from RTTF headquarters. Band members had a first-hand lesson in the technology and techniques involved in recording a single. You can check out their hard work and download Without You from Bandcamp.

Rogers Stevens, the guitarist of legendary alt-rock band Blind Melon, stopped by the studio to help the House Band come up with their awesome guitar solos. It’s not every day that the House Band gets to collaborate with a musician whose songs they cover!

Rogers and the House Band performed Without You as part of their set together at the Music for All Ball.

The House Band aren’t the only RTTF students heading to the studios to record! All of the MusiCore Kensington students will record their original songs at Miner Street later this month.


Music for All Ball 2018

This year, we’re giving the Music for All Ball a brand new sound!

You won’t want to miss these one-of-a-kind collaborations. Guest performers like hip hop artist Chill Moody, Rogers Stevens of iconic alt-rock band Blind Melon, Domenic Palermo of the rock band NOTHING, and orchestral psych-folk outfit Grandchildren will team up with RTTF’s House Band. The 90-minute variety show will feature classic covers, original songs, and a Hall of Fame induction. Come celebrate Rock to the Future’s talented student musicians!

Learn More

The Music for All Ball is only possible because of generous support from awesome people at:


The Higher Education Scholarship Fund Supports Rising (Rock) Stars

Rock to the Future is entering the second year of our Higher Education Scholarship Fund! The fund, established in honor of Jaime and Andrew Katz, will provide $1,000 awards to two of our five graduating seniors to attend college or trade school. The awards, Highest Achievement and Most Improved, honor the work that students have made in their academic and personal lives while taking part in the MusiCore after school program.

2018’s five graduating seniors Alexus, Jared, Lydia, Najah, and Richard are all eligible for scholarships.

According to Rock to the Future Founding Executive Director Jessica Craft, “The greatest obstacle for many students is finding the money to attend college or trade school. Our students work hard but unfortunately we’ve seen students passing up opportunities because they need an extra thousand dollars. The new scholarship fund will help these students achieve their dreams.”

For the past five years,100% of graduating MusiCore students attended post-secondary education (college or trade school). This year, the five graduating seniors plan to study music education, video game design, criminology, and journalism. All the seniors have already submitted their FAFSA and applied to colleges. In 2017, Rock to the Future awarded four scholarships totaling $5,000.


“It helped me out a ton. I was able to take a lot of stress off my parents, and it felt really good that I had done in a way that I felt like I earned it and accomplished something great and could make them proud,” says Sophie M.

The recipient of the Most Improved scholarship in 2017, Sophie is now studying education at Penn State, where she has just joined the honors program. “I have made so many amazing friends and memories that would not have been possible if Jess, Josh, and everyone at Rock to the future hadn’t driven me (sometimes literally) to this point and kept me motivated and wanting to learn and expand my interests since I started the program in the seventh grade.”

Rock to the Future uses music education as the foundation for academic and emotional growth. The MusiCore after-school program provides a scholarship writing club, college and trade school application support, and college visit trips for high school juniors and seniors. At Rock to the Future, students learn that being a rockstar requires dedication, practice, and hard work. As a result, Rock to the Future students are prepared to take on any stage!