University of Hip-Hop
Welcome to the University of Hip-Hop We are a multidisciplinary school of the street arts... Our students learn how to use graffiti arts, break-dance, emceeing, and turntablism for community beautification and transformation... We have teachers and youth who work across the country helping to design hip-hop community development projects and bring living color to the universe through hip-hop... Share your light with us, and let's build ideas for hip-hop work in the 21st Century!

The University of Hip-Hop!

By Sun Run 1

Welcome to the University of Hip-Hop!

We are a non-profit multidisciplinary school of the street arts...


3 comments so far.

  1. Sun Run 1 October 2, 2008 at 3:47 PM
    The University of Hip-Hop (UHipHop)

    The University of Hip-Hop is a multidisciplinary school of the streets arts. UHipHop youth learn how to use breakdance, graffiti, rap, and dee-jaying for the purposes of self-empowerment and community beautification. UHipHop was founded by twenty youth from Hubbard HS in Chicago, Illinois in 1996 with the assistance of the Southwest Youth Collaborative. UHipHop has established kilombos (branches) at other high schools, elementary schools, park districts, community centers, and cultural organizations. At the present time UHipHop is conducting teach-ins on how to incorporate multiple disciplines and the hip-hop arts in community projects and classroom lessons. UHipHop students have also begun “UHipHop Global”, a program dedicated to mapping and identifying community organizations worldwide that are creating hip-hop based initiatives. UHipHop instructors and students have done hundreds of public arts projects and have led the way in developing interdisciplinary strategies for the use of hip-hop for community development. More information about UHipHop can be found at
  2. Sun Run 1 October 2, 2008 at 4:30 PM
    The University of Hip-Hop
    Healthy Independent People Helping Other People
    C/o The Multicultural Arts School
    3120 S. Kostner Chicago, IL 60623
    C/o Southwest Youth Collaborative
    6400 S. Kedzie Chicago, IL 60629


    Hip-hop is a collection of art forms that have come together in inner-city and rural communities worldwide. Heralding from the streets of New York, received and celebrated by youth globally, hip-hop is a prolific force which provides young minds with venues for creativity. As an amalgamation of various cultures and age groups, hip-hop is a reflection of the global village in process, crossing borders and political boundaries for the sole purpose of sharing art. From the South Bronx to Chicago and Oakland, from breakdancers at Jimmy Carter’s inauguration celebration to present day battles in Austria, Germany and China, from cultural curiosity to an academically debated subculture, hip-hop has grown into a recognized creative community of historic proportions in modern day society.

    For the first generations of hip-hoppers the dream was fame, recognition, and originality. Schools of style rose and traditions were built. Over the course of four decades, graffiti, rap music, breakdancing, and deejaying changed the world and the youth they touched. With Afrika Bambaata in the early 1970’s came the moral and ethical standards of the Zulu nation, and officially declared hip-hop community. With KRS-one and a legion of rappers from the 1980’s, came the Stop the Violence movement. Rocksteady crew catalyzed breakdance contests calling on the best dancers worldwide to compete in skill and style, while DMC deejay `turntablists’ continued to evolve their musical and technical art to new levels.

    As this creativity has flourished, some hip-hop artists have sought ways to spread the education of youth in these artforms. With an ever-growing history, the dissemination of knowledge and spirit is utmost in the maintenance of a culture as fruitful as hip-hop. Many youth are turning away from legitimized forms of education, as they feel alienated and disenfranchised by schooling institutions. The racism, class and gender bias and cultural ignorance in curriculum has frustrated inner-city youth today. Among the standardized tests, human mistreatment and disrespect witnessed in students’ experiences in schools and society in general, it is little surprise that youth pursue hip-hop, modern dance, skateboarding, rave culture and other arts to release their creativity. These pursuits must be nurtured and encourage for the sake of children’s imaginative spirit, self-determination, and success in later life.


    In the summer of 1997, students at Hubbard high school on the southwest side of Chicago responded to this situation with their own alternative. They dreamed of a school of hip-hop, an educational franchise that would attract other youth hungry to apply their abilities. They met with youth leaders at the Southwest Youth Collaborative (SWYC) and formulated this dream into reality. They developed a summer school, with a four-five hour day where teachers would come teach the arts and history of hip-hop. They wrote a curriculum that answered their needs, and searched out teachers who would fulfill these desires. By developing this institution these youth empowered themselves through their school, their local community centers and churches, and the support of their families. That summer, the University of Hip-Hop (UHipHop) came into being.

    Every year UHipHop has grown. Our first summer we operated out of Hubbard high school, with the financial assistance of SWYC. Hubbard remained our home for the after-school program until SWYC obtained a bigger facility. The summer of 1998 saw UHipHop move to the north side of Chicago as we operated out of Amundsen high school with the financial support of Ravenswood hospital. During the 1999-2000 summer and school year the UHH moved to SWYC, and continued to expand with the support of the Beastie Boys’ Tibetan fund. From 2000-2001, we have created new curricula, and hired several new educators to diversify courses for our students. During the 2001-2002 school year, the University has established charter clubs at Kenwood Academy, Hubbard and Prologue high schools.

    In 2001 we began a recruitment drive in Dixon and Polo, Illinois, so that we can develop a base where both inner-city and rural youth can interact with each other. We have taught fifty to a hundred students a year, on average, and have many students return year to year, and many new youth knocking at our doorstep constantly. This past summer, with help from the White foundation, the Illinois Humanities Council, the Chicago Police Department and the support of NIU staff, we were able to hire new teachers and expand recruitment. We have a long history (in the context of our artistic community), and serve as the primary hip-hop educational institution in the midwest region.


    The educators and the students of the UHipHop all contribute to organizing activities. Leadership roles vary depending on the situation. The teachers develop their own curricula, and collaborate on overall goal-setting and interdisciplinary planning. Senior University students take assistantship roles in teaching skills to newer students; i.e. one more experienced graffiti writer will teach a novice the proper handling and use of the spraycan. Students generally lead fund-raising activities, such as the community celebrations held twice a season at SWYC. The university has weekly meetings with all available members, to reflect on and review past activities, solicit suggestions, and set up new missions for the coming seasons. Lavie Raven, a founder of UHipHop, serves as the Minister of Education. He organizes the monthly outcome sessions, assists teachers in curriculum planning, and manages the development of new resources and strategies for the school. A number of educators, from colleges and universities, community centers, environmental organizations, museums and other institutions have contributed to UHipHop efforts by sharing their knowledge with our youth.


    The UHipHop gives respect and creativity back to the communities represented by its students and teachers, diverse in their backgrounds and origins. Thus we have done extensive work in the Marquette Park, Englewood, Hyde Park, South Shore, South Chicago, Evanston, Uptown, Lincoln Park, Howard, and Ravenswood communities of Chicago. The majority of UHH students are of Mexican-American, Puerto Rican, or African-American descent, and we create in communities that reflect these cultures. The UHH also has students of Jordanian, Polish, Greek, Irish, Guatemalan, Vietnamese, Chinese and other various cultural backgrounds. Most of our murals appear in economically underserved communities, spreading street beauty to as many children as possible. UHipHop believes all borders and boundaries are permeable and is an all-city institution. We now have satellite groups in Oakland, California, and in Polo, Illinois and are working with youth in these communities, creating several murals and performance pieces in the year 2002. The exposure of inner-city and rural youth to each others’ lifestyles, and the sharing of breakdance moves on the same linoleum, is the essence of the university’s being: a willingness to create anywhere. We are bringing together young creators from many backgrounds, through various art media and community service opportunities, to learn of each other, themselves, and the world.


    Unfortunately there is list of problems which the university responds to, by offering youth a venue for expression. In general there is a lack of beauty in the inner- city. Nature is drowned out by concrete and asphalt, and the city does not promote artistic activities in poor communities. Just in Englewood alone the UHH has had a dramatic impact on the neighborhoods, by brightening up the drab environment with gardens, murals, and dance performances. People place greater value in their communities when their neighborhood feels attractive and worthwhile. Also, there are few places for children to go to create in general. There is too much hardness and struggle in the city, and all people need avenues to nurture their imaginations. For youth who desire this outlet, UHipHop is there. Children become desensitized to ugliness; garbage and filth all over the streets becomes acceptable. We offer street beauty to our youth and numerous communities of Chicago.

    Other issues UHipHop responds to are the injustices our students experience in their normal school environment. Tracking and racism contribute to a greater dropout rate in our schools and students need to know that various paths to success exist. Marquette Park was notorious for its racism during the last three decades, and an influx of new cultures had changed the dynamic of the community. We represent these minority cultures, and are a symbol of the changing face of the nation. Englewood is one of the poorest inner-city communities in the U.S. and we are that community’s public artists, standing proud for all children. Uptown is going through a gentrification process that is displacing many lower income families. UHipHop responds to these issues with youth unification, creation, service learning, and community beautification.

    The Chicago Public Schools has recently limited art curricula for students, and has eliminated physical education for half of the time spent in high school. The UHH offers the opportunity to still be physically active and artistically creative where our schools do not. A lack of art programs at community centers, churches, and schools, hurts the creative spirit and overall growth of youth. We offer a positive learning environment that is open to all who are interested. Our youth have positive self-esteem, and a strong sense of self-determination, and influence other children with their actions.

    In a society plagued by violence and where youth find themselves trapped in webs of confusion on inner-city streets, destructive mentalities can only be dispelled through positive creations. The creative imagination of youth must have opportunities to prosper, so that they don’t fall prey to the violent tendencies that surround them. One of the greatest lessons learned in the UHipHop is the use of competition through creative means, as opposed to violent conflict. Any frustrations are taken out on the dance floor, love shown through the art on the wall, and anger spun into music on the turntables. With students ranging in age from three to twenty-one, and of many cultural backgrounds, UHipHop embraces and teaches values which they have searched for in this violent and hypocritical world.


    UHipHop has operated every summer since 1997, and grew into an after-school and weekend program for 1998-2000. It is an institution recognized across the United Sates. The school has collaborated with artists from New York, Colorado, California, Wisconsin, Florida, St. Louis, and Kansas. Students have attended youth conferences across the nation, and UHipHop has thrived under the direction of its own students. At times struggling with a thin budget line, the university has nevertheless persisted in creating outlets for youth in the Chicago community.

    With graduates in the theater school at DePaul University, the Art institute of Chicago, the architecture schools at ITT and UIC, and representatives in eight different states, the school continues to grow. During the summer of 1999 UHipHop erected more than 20 murals, performed at a minimum of 50 community occasions, and recruited many new members. The summer of 2000 saw UHipHop paint 32 murals (in excess of the original goal of 24 walls) and the during the spring and summer of 2001 UHipHop painted 52 murals across Chicago. We have held community celebrations that were sponsored by Northwestern University, Vertel’s sports, Street Lingo, and Underground Wheels. Collaborating with SWYC, the Feed, Clothe, and Help the Needy (Operation Blessing) program, the Chicago M.E.T. and M.O.D. programs, Chicago public schools and park districts, Aldermen Troutman and Coleman of the Englewood area, Alderman Helen Schiller, and Northern Illinois University’s outdoor education program, UHipHop continues to diversify learning experiences.


    Our new instructors’ backgrounds and educational agendas epitomize the multiple perspectives to which our students are exposed. Coming from all ends of the city and suburbs, these teachers show their own dedication to UHipHop by coming these distances, collaborating together to create an incredible overall curriculum. Heralding from the Southwest side, Isela Estrada, a Mexican-American female, has instructed youth in dance and gymnastics since the age of 12. Almost single-handedly, Isela made Piotrowski Park (of the Chicago Park District) a haven of dance creativity. Having some of the greatest youth turnout for a city park (recognized by the office of the President of the U.S.), Isela has been recognized and praised by senior dance instructors across the city.

    Shelly Britton is Italian-American female outdoor educator from Northern Illinois University, who attended several UHH class sessions and immediately wanted to become with the youth. She has now assumed the position of outdoor educator for the UHH, bringing a wealth of experience in outdoor and environmental instruction to the students. Having done research on seabirds, endangered species and migratory birds in Alaska, Michigan, and Wisconsin, working with an animal hospital and wildlife rehabilitation center, and as a teacher at NIU’s outdoor education campus, Shelly is an outstanding new addition to this program.
    Hector Gonzalez is a Mexican-American male who has been involved with UHipHop for two years and has taken on the responsibilities of the political education of our youth. Through Hector, UHipHop students study historical socio-economic, racial, and gender relations, and are exposed to leaders who have transformed societal inequities through their revolutionary political lives. UHipHop students receive an onslaught of knowledge provided by these instructors. The fact that our students attend this school of the arts in addition to their regular schooling, shows the value they place in the UHipHop.

    Through these approaches UHipHop provides tools for survival and success which are not presently offered in public schools. Our goal is to reach above and beyond the normalized educational expectations of students, by providing them with varied and unconventional creative experiences. Although students learn science, mathematics, and reading and writing skills in school, much modern curriculum does not respect, engage or nurture the minds of our youth. The University of Hip-Hop stimulates its youth to be active participants in shaping and changing society for the better. Some children need this alternative education, which embraces their interests, motivates their dreams, and manifests their imaginative spirits in accomplishments they take great personal pride in.

    Testimonials from UHipHop students, parents, teachers and individuals in communities show that this different pedagogical approach is effective, original, and liberating. We offer our students the freedom to grow and follow their own paths, through interaction with multiple disciplines, peoples, places, and ideas. The students take this offering, and through their own initiative bring beauty, joy, and energy to the city of Chicago.

    The beauty of hip-hop is that it is a combination of all peoples’ histories. It grows as it comes in contact with other people and cultures, and should be celebrated as a powerful and unique multicultural community. The University of Hip-Hop has built itself on this foundation and seeks to grow further with your involvement and support.

    Thank you for your interest and support,
    Lavie Raven

    Prime-Minister of Education
    The University of Hip-Hop
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