Four Pillars: respect, Listen, Understand, Communicate

Don't Believe the Hype Program
"School of Hard-knocks"


To educate youth about the multi-faceted nature of Hip-Hop culture, and help youth develop their critical thinking skills by highlighting and discussing the ways in which Hip-Hop is linked to their own lives and society in many intricate ways.


This course will engage learners in dissecting and analyzing Hip-Hop Culture through an arts-based approach to discussion, and various and informative educational activities. Topics explored will highlight a variety of social issues that affect our youth and their communities. Learners will be encouraged to engage in critical analysis and develop skills in various artistic mediums. Ultimately the aim of this course is to use Hip-Hop as an alternative tool for education to engage and build bridges between youth, educators and academic discourse.
  • To use this program as a tool to build skills that can be used in other aspect of their life and society.
    e.g. school, work, home
  • To be used as a tool for mentorship and role modeling.
  • To empower youth that are disengaged with society or school.


  • Each class is 1 hour long, plus lunch hour
  • Occasional Guest Facilitators who are experts in the artistic mediums being studied in class (i.e. Visual/Graffiti Artists, Musical Engineers/DJs, Spoken Word Poets/Rappers, Dancers/B-Boys/B-Girls)
  • Use of multimedia resources (i.e. videos, music)
  • Use of literature
  • Discussions, debates, engaging in various art-forms
  • Students will be provided with a lunch

Length of program: September-June

Number of youth per class: 10-25

Age range of youth: 15-19

Location of program: Toronto's Priority Neighborhoods and High Schools

  • Western Technical-Commercial School
  • Sir Robert L Borden Business and Technical Institute

Why is the program important?

  • School drop out rates - This will be something being taught in school they can relate to, therefore giving students a reason to come to school.
  • Youth identify with Hip-Hop Culture, it appeals to most youth who are from priority neighborhoods, and youth in general. (Hip-Hop is a core engagement tool of this program)
  • It is important to address issues that youth are facing or affected by, but don't have a space, or resources to really explore or learn these things in school or at home.
  • It is important to expose youth to mentors who are from the community, that have been through similar experiences as the youth, and have knowledge and wisdom to guide the youth in a positive direction.
  • The program connects the issues and realities that students face in their daily lives to bigger societal and global issues, expanding their perspectives and equipping students with critical analytical skills, to help them make better life style choices.



The Students Commission