Giving Compass' Take:

• KC Ifeanyi reports that a school in the Bronx has partnered with Windows of Hip-Hop and Bulova to bring hip hop and arts education to students. 

• How can partnerships like this be scaled? What cultural exposure would students in your community respond to? 

• Learn about the impact of arts education

The pre-K to fifth grade public school in the Bronx recently announced a partnership with the nonprofit hip-hop outreach Windows of Hip-Hop and luxury watchmaker Bulova to build the first-ever recording studio within a New York school, along with creating a hip-hop curriculum.

“For a long time, schools taught children about other people’s cultures—we want to teach our children about their culture,” says PS 55 principal Luis Torres. “Social studies for me was learning about slavery and things that painted our children in a negative way. So now it’s an opportunity for us to start teaching the children about their own culture, why they dress the way they dress, why they speak the way they speak, why they like to listen to rap music, why they like different things.”

The partnership came about when Torres discovered that the school’s volunteer soccer coach was also the president of a marketing agency that counted Bulova as one of its clients. The brand was already working with music legend Nile Rodgers and his We Are Family foundation, and Torres got on the list for an event where he met Bulova’s U.S. managing director Michael Benavente. Torres was already acquainted with Windows of Hip-Hop after reaching out to one of its president and CEO Melissa Libran on Instagram. As it turns out, both Bulova and Windows of Hip-Hop were trying to figure out effective ways of bringing music into schools.

The meeting of minds then turned into a major opportunity—and hopefully a larger movement—for underserved kids. “We’ve been in New York for 144 years. So the whole time we’re here, we want to connect with communities,” Benavente says. “Nobody needs a watch today. So the watch business really becomes an emotional connection, and it really becomes about community. So for schools, the kids need hope. Kids need an avenue. We’re using music as our platform to connect with people because it’s multicultural. It doesn’t matter where you were born, where you’re from. Music connects. This is just the start of something. Where it’s going to take us, we don’t know yet, but we know one place it’s going to take us is PS 55.”

Read the full article about bring hip-hop and arts education to a school by KC Ifeanyi at Fast Company.