Since its creation in the 1970s, hip-hop has been established not only as a popular musical genre, but also as a powerful social movement. The culture behind it stresses important values like resilience, community, and social justice. Now, it’s tackling those same issues through an unexpected medium: architecture.

Michael Ford is an architect, designer, community leader, and the creator of the Hip Hop Architecture Camp, a program that aims to blend hip-hop and architecture to get young people of color excited about the prospect of pursuing careers in building, engineering, and urban planning. In the years to come, these kids will be able to secure jobs they are passionate about and use their skills to actively improve the problems plaguing their communities.

On its website, the camp is described as a “one-week intensive experience, designed to introduce underrepresented youth to architecture, urban planning, creative placemaking, and economic development through the lens of hip-hop culture.” The camp is open to both middle and high school students, but unfortunately spots are limited and extremely in-demand.

Once accepted into the free after-school program, students are matched with multiple experts across various fields to broaden their horizons and hopefully ignite new passions within them. After a series of in-depth lessons, the children leave the camp with experience in multiple career paths under their belts.

Since these fields are so undersaturated with people of color at the moment, it is essential to have programs like this that promote knowledge and social equality. All of the lessons are tied together through hip-hop: some assignments are based off of old-school song lyrics, and at the end of the week, students create a “Hip-Hop Architecture track and music video summarizing their designs,” combining all of their newfound knowledge with their love of music. The camp even puts on daily freestyle competitions.

The camp’s overall strcuture is proudly based on the “4Cs:” creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. Since all of these key concepts are less concrete than the things that are traditionally taught to our youth, they can all easily go underdeveloped if a child’s sole resource for education is conventional schooling.

The program is sponsored by Autodesk, a company who knows the value of architecture and artistry very well. Autdodesk devleops software for the creators of the world, including manufacturers, architects, and builders. Just like it gives creatives the tools to develop structures for the world we live in, Autodesk similarly provides children with the education and confidence needed to build brighter futures.

On the camp’s website, you’ll find that you are able to make a contribution in a number of different ways. You can make a one-time donation, or you can commit your time and effort by volunteering. The camp is always looking for help from professionals like architects, city planners, and hip-hop creatives like DJs and graffiti artists. They’re also actively looking for new host organizations. Feel free to reach out and start fostering community engagement today!