Impact

Now operating out of three High Schools in North Philadelphia, our aim and our process are simple.

  • Give students a platform to build their voice and share their stories through the process of songwriting, recording, and performing.
  • Connect these young artists 1-on-1 to an experienced local artist mentor from the Philadelphia music scene.

In our after-school program, students work with mentors for 8 weeks, as they write and record their own music, often for the first time. As one 10th Grade participant put it:

“I like the fact that we get to do our music and use our talent in our way. And not, in any other way or how anybody wants it. We get do it freely how WE want to do it.”

What is produced from these sessions are our AYA Project Albums, featuring the original songs of each student, along with original titles and artwork also developed by mentors and students. Our first album, featuring six students from Kensington CAPA High School, was released in 2016 and set the stage for our program to double in size, serving 12 students at two different schools in 2017. And while we could easily talk for hours (or pages) about our own love for AYA, to truly understand the impact of our program, it is best to hear it from the students themselves:

Build Confidence

“I didn’t really think of myself as writing music. I thought I couldn’t, I really did, I really thought I couldn’t write music. And then...with the confidence, (my mentor) made me kind of think like, ‘Oh, maybe I could be this if I really push myself to be like this.’”
-Veronica

Build Creativity

“The thing I like about songwriting is how you get to express all of the things that you can’t express in real life. Like, when you’re in reality, you can’t…sometimes you don’t want to say something to a person where it’s just like “Wow like, that’s how they really feel about me?” but when in music you don’t know who you’re talking about.”
-Jesus

Build Community

“It was like this. It was too quick bro. I played something and he was like ‘Dude...you got it. You got it.’ He gave me this crazy advice, because he do poetry too. He was like ‘put your poetry into your rap.’ And I thought damn, maybe if I do, it’ll make me say way more or make you think way more about what I’m doing. And that’s what influenced that.”
-Roland

Finances

2016

School

Students

Fully Funded

2017

Schools

Students

Fully Funded

2018

Schools

Students

To Be Raised

Where to From Here

In the 2017-2018 School Year, AYA Project is excited to be pursuing further expansion into a third North Philadelphia school. While we recognize the significant investment this will require by all involved, we continue to operate, as we always have, on the simple principle that our children are worth it. That their dreams deserve to be followed and their voices deserve to be heard. And that collectively, we can make this possible.

Kensington CAPA Releases Second Album

This weekend, AYA Project celebrated a major milestone with the release of the Kensington CAPA site's second album, Unmasked. Featuring 7 students in 10th-12th grade, 5 of which were returning members, the album showcases not only amazing talent but also amazing...

Artist Spotlight: Kenny Automatic

As we begin recording for our second edition of the AYA Project, we want to take a second to highlight one of the most talented artists to grace our program: Kenny Automatic. Still 5 months from his High School graduation, Kenny was well versed in the Philly rap scene...

AYA Project Round 2 is On

This week, we reached a major milestone: funding for the 2017 edition of Aspiring Young Artists Project has officially been raised- and we will officially be bringing our program to twice as many schools (and students) beginning this January. We could not be more...