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The prestigious Knight Foundation has recognized The YoYo School of Hip Hop's efforts and commitment to making a difference with a $40,000 grant. The school is required to match the donation via fundraising.
YoYo created the school in 2011 with the intent of using art to educate. She wanted to develop a place where the busy, active mind of a young artist can create and learn without being judged. The program that offers classes on lyric writing, hip hop dance, beat production, theater, vocal production and artist development launched with 100 students thanks to a personal investment, support from local community groups and friends in the entertainment business. To date, the effort has served more than 8000 youth in Los Angeles, Highland Park, and more than 20 pilot programs in additional cities.
"When I got my record deal when I was 17 years old, I did not know anything about the music business. I knew that I had talent and a passion for the arts, but did not know anything about artist development, how to produce music, or how to strengthen my voice. Using lyrics to teach English and Beat Production to teach math, science and engineering is incredible in the urban communities.
"I was blessed that I had mentors like Ice Cube and then Elektra Records CEO Sylvia Rhone who guided me along the way, but I could not help but wonder what course my career would had taken had I known what I know now.
"Giving back has always been my mission."
-- Yolanda "YoYo" Whitaker