After a busy six month build-up, Philadelphia’s Institute Of Hip Hop Entrepreneurship (IHHE) – featured on Philly’s Fox 29 News; in Philadelphia Magazine (“The Biggest Ideas of 2016”); the Philadelphia Inquirer; and WXPN’s “The Key” – recently completed its second weekend of classes, December 10 & 11. It was another positive experience for the 24 young people chosen for the tuition-free program, which still has another seven months to go. (The next teaching weekend is Jan 14 & 15).
Over the course of the Dec 10-11 weekend – which had a theme of “Disruptive Leadership” – students identified the qualities of disruption that build leadership; learned techniques to spark innovation; and developed skills that support strong business development.
In the midst of considerable national hand-wringing from progressives and the media after November’s election, the IHHE is a breath of fresh air: two dozen unique, innovative and energized young people who may very well be running Philadelphia’s business community – and beyond – in the coming decades.
Guest speakers over the first two IHHE teaching weekends have included:
- Joe “The Butcher” Nicolo (RuffHouse Records / Studio 4)
- Sara Lomax-Reese (WURD Radio CEO / President)
- Grouchy Greg (AllHipHop.com)
- Neil Levine (Penalty Records / Entertainment)
- Yusuf Muhammad (A3C Festival)
- Laiya St. Clair (producer for Pandora’s “QuestLove Supreme” podcast)
- Sylvester Mobley (Executive Director of Coded By Kids)
After receiving more than 300 applications, the inaugural class (ages from late teens to late 30s) has just left the starting line and embarked upon a nine-month educational journey that will help give them the tools to control their own entrepreneurial destinies. The early stages of the Institute consist of full day immersive learning from mentors, teachers and inspirational speakers one Saturday and Sunday a month at Pipeline Philly’s downtown offices (30 South 15th Street, 15th Floor, next to City Hall), with supplemental mentoring and other experiential learning in between.
The IHHE is a program that uses the ethos of Hip Hop to empower enterprising young people from non-traditional backgrounds with the skills necessary for entrepreneurial success. It was awarded more than $300,000 in April 2016 as a winner of the Knight Cities Challenge, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Created and implemented by Philadelphia’s Little Giant Creative agency, this forward-thinking initiative aims to level the playing field for ambitious and creative young people who – due to a variety of barriers – are denied or have limited access to the knowledge, resources, and networks necessary to take ideas from concept to reality.
In addition to the 2-day weekend sessions each month, the IHHE offers additional opportunities for students to collaborate and network. Among other activities, IHHE hosts “Independent Work Weekends” in locations throughout Philadelphia to expand the student’s access to the city’s vast professional landscape.
The IHHE provides an alternate path around America’s outdated education paradigm (typical classroom lecturing, rote learning, and standardized testing); the IHHE path is experiential, participatory, and culturally relevant, in order to bring unique and talented young people into a community of engagement and empowerment. In recognition of the important role Hip Hop plays in the social and cultural lives of urban youth, the Institute integrates Hip Hop culture and practices into a substantive, hands-on training program.
The 9-month, tuition-free program, will allow this select group of promising young Philadelphians to participate in courses and seminars designed and taught by renowned creative professionals, businesspeople, technologists, and musicians. Each weekend-long session (once a month) will focus on a new aspect of building a business, from business proposals and marketing plans, to staffing and finding funding. Throughout the duration of the Institute, students will engage in group work and team projects, compete in friendly competitions, and ultimately pitch their businesses to investors in the final session to make their venture a reality.