WORDS BEATS AND LIFE INC

Hip-Hop Since 2002

aka Words Beats & Life   |   Washington, DC   |  www.wblinc.org

Mission

"Words Beats and Life serves as unapologetic advocates of Hip-Hop culture in all its artistic forms, empowering artists to relentlessly create and refine systems for collaborative artistic and community development."

Ruling year info

2004

Executive Director

Mr. Mazi Mutafa

Main address

1525 Newton St NW

Washington, DC 20010 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

27-0062812

NTEE code info

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Urban, Community (S31)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

As Artists, Scholars, Educators and Activists, we use our talents to transform the lives of members of our communities and the institutions that impact our lives. Our community transcends geography, age, race, religion, language, orientation or gender. We are, in fact, the whole human family and the whole of human history is our birthright and inspiration.

We know that the ink of the scholar is equal to the vinyl of the DJ, the paint of the Writer, the bars of the MC, and the explosive power in the B-Girl's body in the center of the cypher.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Arts Education

Our Arts Education programming exposes students to new knowledge, techniques and methods, as well as provides opportunities to grow their knowledge and network through alternative winter and spring break activities. We also provide opportunities for young artists to practice what we teach through performances, and public art making, as well as encouraging these students to manage their own projects and events by participating in our Arts Management program. Our work in schools has been with young people in Middle School, High School and College, with participants ranging from 13-22. In community contexts, we work with people as young as 10 and with adults 23 and older. Despite popular misunderstandings about our culture, Hip-Hop is likely created, participated in, and celebrated by the most diverse set of people in terms of audiences, practitioners, supporters, and consumers.

Population(s) Served
Non-adult children
Children and youth

Our Creative Employment work focuses on engaging members of the larger creative community, to share their knowledge and experience as guest speakers, mentors and potential employers. To that end WBL hosts a regional alternative spring break focused on Visual Arts and Performing Arts, and a national alternative Winter Break speaker series focused on the media arts. Each year we also host an annual Creative Economy Internship and Career Fair by partnering with Creative Non Profits in the DC metro area.

We emphasize Creative Employment as one of our core values at WBL. By engaging members of the larger creative community we bridge the gap between the experienced and new through our Regional Alternative Break series, Career Fairs and Creative Economy Internships.

Population(s) Served
Self-employed people
Unemployed people
Adults

Since 2010, words Beats and life has been working to send artists abroad, and bring artists from abroad to the US. These collaborations have taken the form of master classes, musical and dance performances, along with public art creation and offering scholarships to pay for primary schools for students in partner organizations abroad. We are working to make more of these collaborations more focused in commerce. We want to develop cooperative agreements that allow for greater exchange, and revenue generation for WBL and our international partners.

For a decade we have been working to send artists both abroad and to the US through our continued commitment to Cultural Diplomacy. Through master classes, musical performances, public art creation, and offering scholarships to students alongside partner organizations abroad, WBL wants to develop cooperative agreements that allow for greater exchange and revenue generation for us and our international partners.

Population(s) Served

There is power in the margins. Power to innovate, create and tell stories that are new for many Americans. Our priority is to expand minds, knock down walls, and build bridges between communities. Our approach to this work is interdisciplinary, people of color and often women led. It has included theater, gallery shows, mural making, poetry performances, publishing, and documentary work. This work has allowed us to share the histories of people and places through the arts that would not ordinarily attend a hip-hop based event.

Population(s) Served

WBL creates work to reach outside the hip-hop community to continue to grow it across various demographics. We host events and create work that has the hip-hop community and the process of building community in person and virtually for hip-hop communities, locally, nationally and globally. This is arts for community building and expanding sake through culture. This work is critical considering how many people's knowledge of hip-hop ends at Rap music on the radio. This is our effort to showcase the culture in all its forms by lifting up the work of artists all over the world.

Population(s) Served
Non-adult children
Adolescents
Non-adult children
Adolescents
Non-adult children
Adolescents

Where we work

Awards

Impact Award 2009

Lehrman Foundation

Affiliations & memberships

Downtown BID 2019 Momentum Award, Partnership 2019

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Hours of expertise provided

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Related Program

Arts Education

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This is the total number of staff hours for the WBL Academy

Total number of works commissioned

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Related Program

Cultural Diplomacy

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

The numbers have fluctuated because we have transitioned from managing a government public art program to developing public art on our own.

Number of free registrants to classes

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Related Program

Arts Education

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

In 2017, thought a partnership with DC Public Libraries we were able to increase our number of after school sites to 12.

Number of free participants on field trips

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

WBL hosts events that have increasingly been participated in by school children. In 2017 we received funding specifically to fund this means of engagement.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Words Beats & Life aims to utilize Hip-Hop to bring unique and positively transformative arts experiences to communities and individuals around the world.

WBL wants to see more young people engaged in arts programming outside of school requirements and pursuing academic/professional betterment through post-secondary education. We want young artists not only securing jobs in their community, but doing work that they love utilizing their creative skills.

We want to connect Hip-Hop with the greater academic community while providing a space for academicians, artists, arts managers and activist to hold discourse on positive change through the arts. The results of these meetings will create agents of artistic innovation, ready to take action to better the world through Hip-Hop.

Finally, we want to take our methods outside of the District, around the country, and throughout the world to share our approach with others so they can in turn inspire and empower those around them.

WBL stimulates the creative economy by employing local artists to teach our Academy students about mastering their artistic discipline and their own future as a professional. Academy student's artistic ability, professional knowledge, well being, and attitudes towards education are evaluated throughout their tenure in our program so we can meet the needs that our students address.

We provide our student's with a plethora of resources so they can succeed professionally and artistically after leaving our program. This support includes: professional development workshops, college coaching, paid/unpaid performance opportunities, resume/portfolio assistance, and more.

WBL regularly engages the academic community through the semi-annual release of our academic journal "The Words Beats & Life Global Journal of Hip-Hop" and at our annual "Remixing the Art of Social Change" Teach-In.
We have a call for submissions for The Journal and presenters at the Teach-In every year, ensuring that we can regularly expose the arts community to fresh voices dedicated to positive change.

Words Beats & Life Inc has garnered consistent support for its programs from the international Hip-Hop community for 15 years. Our growing number of institutional and community partners allows us to delegate more on-the-ground responsibilities, allowing full-time staff, master level artist teachers, part-time staff and interns to focus our attention on strategizing goal attainment.

Our partnerships with venues like the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Busboys and Poets frequently provides paid opportunities for students in our Creative Core, a new branch of the WBL Academy that places students into paid performance opportunities throughout the city. Sponsorships and grants from embassies abroad and our very own state department allow us to fund international cultural exchanges between select DC artists and Hip-Hop communities abroad including those in Brazil, France, Lebanon, and more.

Our consistently growing social media presence, recently surpassing 20,000 followers across all platforms, drives increasing support for the youth and artists we serve. Our above average rates of engagement increases our capacity to reach new potential donors and further our potential for future partnerships, promotional and operational, thanks to our improved ability to provide exposure for artists and other organizations striving to make a positive impact.

Our continual success in public art creation has established Words Beats & Life as an authority in the commissioning of new public art projects and the restoration of older public art projects. For example, the annual Fine Lines Paint Jam allows over 50 street art, fine art, graffiti art, and mural artists to collaborate on one project creating an interdisciplinary networking opportunity for participating artists, spectators, art buyers, and aspiring youth.

Locally, Words Beats & Life has succeeded in providing paid opportunities to youth and master-level artists thanks to the Creative Core and deeper partnerships with local organizations and institutions within Washington, D.C.'s creative economy. We have also succeeded in providing a safe space for youth to freely create and express themselves through a Hip-Hop art form. Every student is guaranteed stage time at seasonal student showcases for parents and friends to see what they've learned.

Nationally, we convene artists, educators, and scholars for the purposes of exchanging best practices in art creation, youth and community development, and discourse on Hip-Hop culture as it effects our various community's creative economy. We do this through annual conferences at the John F. Kennedy Center and assisting other organizations, like Chicago's Kuumba Lynx, in the production of their own annual conferences.

Internationally, we've accomplished public art projects, cultural exchanges, and capacity building seminars for arts organizations in other nations. Words Beats & Life has sent artists and administrators to 6 different countries in the last two years.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    SMS text surveys, Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We have used feedback to make recommendations to DC Public Libraries about which of our classes should be offered at their locations. We have also used participant feedback to change the composition of graffiti workshop, specifically how much time we spend on particular things. We have also used feedback to expand class offerings, and what instruments would be used in those classes.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

WORDS BEATS AND LIFE INC
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

WORDS BEATS AND LIFE INC

Board of directors
as of 2/15/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. Mark Lwrence

Inccuvate

Term: 2020 - 2023


Board co-chair

Ms Jamila Sams

We do it for the Culture, CEO

Term: 2020 - 2023

Bennie Herron

Fatherhood Trainer

Naiemah McIntosh

University of Maryland

Timothy Anne Burnside

The Smithsonian

Saafir Rabb

CEO, Interculture

Shantelle Wright

Principal

Landon Jones

Consultant

Elaine Kennedy

Consultant

Samantha Armstrong

Consultant

Kenysha Bartee

Under Armor

David Schwed

Cyber Security

Filippo Rossi

Lighting Designer

William Hegwood

Apple

Ptosha Davis

Government

Helen Bryant

Development Director

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 02/15/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American/African
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 01/13/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.