• Social Innovation Fellowship

Award Year 

Hip Hop 4

Hip Hop 4 believes that Hip Hop culture can be used as a vehicle for social change by staying true to its original purpose—peace, love, unity and having fun. Hip Hop 4 is an organization that professionally trains Hip Hop crews to engage with their community on various levels: education, community organizing and performance. Hip Hop 4 places teaching artists in schools and NGOs and support them in using their art form to increase social engagement of underresouced communities. Hip Hop 4's theory of change is twofold; Firstly, reclaiming Hip Hop as a safe and expressive art form allows underprivileged youth to express themselves artistically in a way that school arts programs and their local contexts do not often allow for. This outlet for self-expression provides a safe and constructive alternative to other activities these youth often find themselves involved in. Secondly, Hip Hop 4 believes that placing Hip Hop artists in leadership roles in their local context provides uniquely effective role models for underprivileged youth while allowing these artists to further develop as educators. Hip Hop 4 trains crews in its social justice Hip Hop curriculum in order to ensure that Hip Hop is being used to relay larger life messages. Hip Hop 4 works with The GR818ERS in Los Angeles and  Project 401 in Providence on implementing a curriculum that uses the five elements of Hip Hop—Dance, Graffiti, MCing, DJing and Knowledge—to address social issues such as low levels of community engagement, gang violence, and physical fitness. This program also emphasizes the multicultural roots of Hip Hop culture and serves as an intercultural education program. Hip Hop 4 is partnered with community organizations in Los Angeles and New England, such as the Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Medical Center, the New Urban Farmers, and the Hip Hop Loves Foundation.

With the Starr Fellowship, Hip Hop 4 will further develop its curriculum this summer in Los Angeles, CA with The GR818ERS and the Hip Hop Loves Foundation. Hip Hop 4 also plans to implement the full Hip Hop curriculum in Fall 2012 in Pawtucket, RI with the New Urban Farmers and Project 401.

Personal Statement 

Hip Hop 4 is an organization that Emily Goldman and Pierre Arreola founded together in the spring of 2012 to utilize the power of Hip Hop culture as a universal language.

During Pierre's senior year in high school, he lived in “The Filmore Dojo,” home of Lorenzo Chapman (Devious) and Eric Chapman (Rox Swift), who he had met through their participation in the San Fernando High School wrestling team. Lorenzo and Eric are talented artists who live through Hip Hop culture and work to empower youth to overcome the social circumstances of their under resourced community. There he began to learn and understand the artistic elements of Hip Hop culture by watching and talking to pioneers and innovators in action. Naturally, Pierre began to emulate his new surroundings—he was especially drawn to Hip Hop dance: popping, locking and bboying (breakdancing). Throughout his last year in high school, he worked with Lorenzo and Eric to manage a Hip Hop dance crew at their high school and in the summer of 2009 came together to establish The GR818ERS as a grassroots movement in their community. The GR818ERS is a collective of Hip Hop artists and college students based out of the San Fernando Valley in Southern California. In the fall of 2009, Pierre left his home in the San Fernando Valley, the city of Pacoima, to pursue an undergraduate degree at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

During the spring of 2010, Pierre partnered with Babatunde Doherty and Samuel Rosenfeld, two Brown student musicians, to organize Hip Hop dance events in Providence. That summer, Samuel visited The GR818ERS at The Dojo and documented The GR818ERS efforts to support and inspire their community. Before Pierre returned to Brown for his sophomore year, The GR818ERS worked with Samuel Rosenfeld to organize and host “A Family Affair”, proving that they could empower communities throughout the Los Angeles County.

As a sophomore in the fall of 2010, Pierre was hired as a Minority Peer Counselor by the Third World Center at Brown University and developed a deeper understanding of structural injustices and workshop management. He began to paruse through his new-found networks to further his understanding of possible resources The GR818ERS could utilize to actually improve social circumstances in under resourced communities. In the spring of 2011, Pierre was awarded the Royce Sport and Society Fellowship, which he used to employ Hip Hop dance to teach youth and families healthy modes of expression and nonviolence education over the summer of 2011.

Pierre's work over the summer of 2011 was focused on the partnerships The GR818ERS had developed with the City of Los Angeles and local NGOs. Throughout the summer, Pierre partnered with Samuel Rosenfeld to network with organizations throughout the Los Angeles County to support The GR818ERS' projects and events. The GR818ERS utilized these partnerships to host a series of monthly community events, while teaching six dance workshops for families throughout Los Angeles as part of the Summer Night Lights program. Additionally, The GR818ERS implemented a dual artistic and athletic curriculum, focused on music, dance and visual art, for youth, ages 5-15, at North Valley Caring Services. The highlight of the summer was the second annual “A Family Affair," coordinated in partnership with the Hip Hop Loves Foundation in North Hills, California to provide community members an opportunity to create and support the arts. The Hip Hop Loves Foundation is a non-profit organization that organizes Hip Hop programs internationally.

Currently, the movement has grown quickly in both size and reach; The GR818ERS continue being a powerful movement impacting their community and empowering individuals globally through Hip Hop events and inspirational media. 

Currently, Pierre is in his junior year concentrating in Sociology. He is working to network with scholars and organizations in the growing field of Hip Hop education to rally college students and Hip Hop artists in the San Fernando Valley and Providence around utilizing Hip Hop and the Arts as a platform for social development. His mission is to improve conditions in under resourced communities through the development of community arts interventions utilizing Hip Hop culture as a universal language to impart artistic skills and relay positive social messages.