Communities and Youth for Promoting Hip Hop, Empowerment, and Resiliency (CYPHER) Launches

October 17, 2019

On September 16, 2019, ECA launched its first year-long, multi-office pilot program entitled Communities and Youth for Promoting Hip Hop, Empowerment, and Resiliency (CYPHER), led by ECA’s innovation team, the Collaboratory.

CYPHER will create opportunities for civic engagement, educational advancement, and economic empowerment for the participant’s communities. The program combines multiple ECA program models, including International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) On-Demand, the Collaboratory’s virtual exchange programming model, Arts Envoy, and Next Level Alumni, creating a sustained arc of engagement for both U.S. and international participants.

The program will culminate with an International Hip Hop Festival with stages in Casablanca, Brussels, and New York City.

CYPHER welcomed participants from Morocco, Belgium, France, and Spain and kicked off in New York City on September 16, 2019. Each participant brought unique hip hop skills, a diverse background, and professional knowledge to this first time program. As hip hop artists and leaders in their communities, participants use communications and leadership skills to support educational and economic opportunities and critical thinking and conflict resolution skills for underserved populations.

Phase one of the program, an IVLP On-Demand, allowed the program participants to meet with their counterparts in New York City; Kansas City, Missouri; and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Additionally, participants engaged in a daylong workshop designed to introduce them to ECA alumni they will collaborate with during their virtual exchange program, introduce them to new educational techniques for arts education, and explore the creative process. At the conclusion of phase one, the participants will return to their communities and be paired with U.S. artists, also alumni of ECA’s Next Level Program, to begin a collaborative virtual exchange creating new hip hop art (music, dance, spoken word, etc.) over the several months. These collaborations will be featured at an upcoming international hip hop festival in Brussels, Belgium; Casablanca, Morocco; and New York City, and will be available to be streamed live. Check back here for future updates!


A brief closing beatbox and moving forward for the participants