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Alternate ROOTS selects Charleston projects for new Partners in Action cohort

Two Charleston projects, “conNECKted” JEMAGWGA and Girls Rock Charleston After School Program, have been selected for Alternate ROOTS’ 2015 Partners in Action cohort, which works to illuminate cultural organizing as a tool for grassroots organization in communities. From September 2015 to April 2017, ROOTS is providing a combination of funding and technical and staff support based on the needs of each project. “conNECKted” JEMAGWGA will receive $5,000, and Girls Rock Charleston After School Program will receive $14,000. "conNECKted" (pictured above) is an art-in-community project centered on the human consequences of gentrification and New Urbanism. Propelled by a network of artists, activists, and community members, "conNECKted" aims to challenge Charleston political institutions and developers to become aware of the populations they have been neglecting – from youth in public schools to seniors who carry local history – by amplifying the voices of these residents through various creative community-engaged arts. Girls Rock CharlestonThe  Girls Rock Charleston After School Program is a year-long after-school program for at-risk girls and transgender youth that combines music education, DIY media making, and popular and political education to build a youth-led movement for social change in Charleston, S.C. The program encourages participants to explore their burgeoning identities and to address the impact of police violence and the prison system in their communities. Each semester, the Rockers work together to produce a multimedia body of work that documents and impacts these social issues and presents the participants' own visions for liberation in their communities. This year, ROOTS reviewed 30 applications and selected eight partners, up from four partners in 2013 and six in 2014. Now in its third cycle, and preceded for nearly two decades by the Community/Artist Partnership Program, Partners in Action builds equitable and reciprocal relationships between artists, cultural organizers, and communities. Through local actions, projects and activities, these partnerships connect social justice issues and policies to social and economic justice and practice. About Alternate ROOTS Alternate ROOTS, headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., supports the creation and presentation of original art that is rooted in community, place, tradition or spirit. We are a group of artists and cultural organizers based in the South creating a better world together. As Alternate ROOTS, we call for social and economic justice and are working to dismantle all forms of oppression – everywhere. Via: Alternate ROOTS

Girls Rock Charleston to launch after-school music education program

From the Charleston Post and Courier:

A nonprofit that empowers girls through music education and creative collaboration plans to launch a new after-school program in the spring.

Girls Rock Charleston's newest offering will focus on leadership, mentorship and music as a means for social change. Participants will learn an instrument, form a band, participate in workshops on social justice principles, and perform their original music at a local venue.

"One of the main things we focus on is developing leadership for the next generation of youth, so we definitely see our programming as almost primarily a leadership development vehicle," said Jenna Lyles, one of the four founders of Girls Rock Charleston. "The music piece is really important; it's a platform for social change."

In Charleston, the 3-year-old, all-volunteer nonprofit has served more than 150 girls through a one-week summer camp, and that will remain its flagship program. The new after-school program grew out of that effort because organizers wanted to do a longer program that would provide deeper mentorship for participants. The program begins Feb. 4 and lasts until May 1.

"It will be more time for them to get creative and work together more," Lyles said.

The new program will include social-based justice lessons, such as the history of women in music.

"It's definitely a combination of 'Songwriting 101' and (girls') image and identity," Lyle said. "It's primarily gender focused, but we talk a lot about race and class."

The local group is part of the Girls Rock Camp Alliance, an international coalition of organizations that promote and support its affiliate camps. The first camp started in Portland, Ore., in 2007, and spinoff camps have cropped up across the world. The goal has been to use music education to foster self-esteem and confidence.

In Charleston, the new after-school program has a sliding-scale fee, from $500 to free, depending on parents' income. Lyles said the racial and socioeconomic demographics of summer campers has been diverse, and they strive to create a safe place where girls can talk about who they are and their experiences.

Some students have attended the camp because they have a keen interest in music, while others are into social justice.

"We encourage both," Lyles said. "Whatever they bring, we amplify it. We want to break down the barriers that prevent girls from being able to live out their full humanity. We consider ourselves to be a feminist organization."

The new Girls Rock Charleston after-school program is open to girls and transgender youth ages 13 to 17. The program will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. from Feb. 4 through May 1. The final showcase will be May 3. Applications are due Jan. 19 and can be found at www.girlsrockcharleston.org or by calling (843) 494-2890.