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Hip-Hop Pioneers Commissioned to Mentor Local Youth in New Artistic Production

CHICAGO, Dec. 12, 2018 – The Joyce Foundation announced today that TRUE Skool is one of six winners of the 2019 Joyce Awards, which honor collaborations between artists of color and arts and cultural organizations throughout the Great Lakes region.  Milwaukee’s center for creative arts and hip-hop culture, TRUE Skool, will give local youth an opportunity to collaborate with three pioneering female hip-hop artists to create new breakdancing, MC and graffiti-style art works.  New York City breakdancing icon, Ana “Rokafella” Garcia, notable Washington, D.C. muralist, Cita Sadeli (CHELOVE), and Colorado-based MC, Aja Black, will mentor young artists and aspiring arts administrators as they develop new artworks to be showcased at a city-wide block party and in various public exhibitions in the summer of 2019. “TRUE Skool’s mission goes well beyond our youth programs, we understand that in order to make a long term impact in the lives of our youth and community we have to connect them to opportunities in Milwaukee creating a pipeline of professional prospects for the future,” said Shalina S. Ali, co-executive director of TRUE Skool. “With this grant award we will be able to expand the imagination of our young people well beyond our city by connecting them with three amazing women artists who embody lifelong tenacity, cultural celebration and Hip Hop all over the world.” To date, the Joyce Awards have granted $3.5 million to commission 65 new works connecting artists with cultural organizations throughout the Great Lakes region. The $50,000 award is used to support artists in the creation and production of a new work and provides the commissioning organization the resources needed to engage potential audiences, new partners and their larger communities. “This trail-blazing commission of a multi-racial, multi-cultural trio of female hip-hop artists, working with Milwaukee’s youth as community engagement coordinators, speaks to the social justice foundations of the music itself and tightly connects to the foundation’s focus on racial equity, economic mobility and next generation stewardship,” said Tracie Hall, director of The Joyce Foundation’s Culture Program. “TRUE Skool has a track record of effective youth and artist engagement. We are excited to see where they take this contemporary expression of dance and visual and musical storytelling.” The other 2019 Joyce Awards winners include the Cleveland Public Theatre with playwright, Lisa Langford; the Lao Assistance Center in Minneapolis with poet Bryan Thao Worra; Cleveland’s Playhouse Square Foundation with playwrights Kaneza Schaal and Christopher Myers; The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago and visual artist, Emmanuel Pratt; and the University of Illinois Chicago with Mexican visual artist, Adela Goldbard. To view a video on the Joyce Awards, please click here. For more information on the Joyce Awards and the Joyce Foundation, please visit

About The Joyce Foundation

The Joyce Foundation is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region. We support policy research, development, and advocacy in five areas: Education & Economic MobilityEnvironmentGun Violence Prevention & Justice ReformDemocracy, and Culture. The Joyce Foundation has budgeted 2018 charitable distributions of $50 million on assets of approximately $1 billion. 

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