YoYo (Yolanda Whitaker)
Founder and Executive Director, is a Grammy-nominated American rapper and actor whose music has advocated female empowerment and is leading a mission to help educate youths within the community about dance, music, and learning how to compose and perform powerful messages in rap music.
YoYo has been an influential figure in helping to transform the mindsets and break the negative stereotypes within the community by arming youth with the tools necessary to achieve their goals, believe in themselves, and surpass the expected stereotypes foisted onto their neighborhoods.
She is also the founder and spokesperson for the Intelligent Black Women’s Coalition (IBWC), a call to arms to women everywhere committed to the education and survival of young black women. Its central aim is to challenge sexism within rap and to provide a space for the voice of female rappers. She has promoted the efforts of the IBWC in her music and continually encourages other women rappers to do the same.
In 2005, YoYo and prominent female rapper MC Lyte, joined forces to create the Let Your Light Shine Youth Foundation, an LA-based organization that acts as Big Sisters to young women via mentoring, education, and helping to provide empowerment through positive influences. She was also a teacher of lyric writing for the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, a non-profit music education-oriented organization helping students develop imaginative thinking, creativity, and a respect for their own and others' cultural heritage, at her alma mater Washington Preparatory High School. She continually remains driven to change the lives of children in need.
More than a decade ago, YoYo flew to Washington with U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who represented California’s 35th Congressional District, and spoke before Congress on behalf of rap music censorship. Now, with the vision to help youths within the Los Angeles community and armed with blessings from her dear friend Congresswoman Waters, YoYo continues on her quest to provide a unique program at YoYo’s School of Hip Hop. A mother herself, YoYo knows the valuable importance of keeping the youth educated and engaged. YoYo does this in a way that will entertain their minds, strengthen their skills, inspire and reach out to those that otherwise might not have such opportunities. She has over 20 years experience in the music and film industry and has been a prominent figure in helping to both unite and heal our community.