Our Impact

Refresh Collective is a nonprofit that cultivates tomorrow's change-makers through self-expression and skill building rooted in hip-hop culture.  Our students learn to powerfully express themselves by making music and creating t-shirt designs. Students develop artistic, interpersonal and transferrable employment skills as they write, produce and perform their work. 

At 6 studios, students find a safe place to learn music production, recording arts, photography, videography, graphic design, screen printing and embroidery. Here's where it all happens:

  • Standalone studio on Cleveland's west side
  • Print shop in Cincinnati
  • Studio in a large children's hospital for rehabilitation
  • Two full-time studio classrooms in Cincinnati Public Schools
  • Traveling studios in 7 Cleveland Metropolitan Schools and a drug treatment center

469 PARTICIPANTS (AGES 9-45) grew in confidence, creativity and character while building new workforce skills such as:

  • ???
  • ???

469 PARTICIPANTS (AGES 9-45) grew in confidence, creativity and character while building new workforce skills such as:

  • ???
  • ???

The Confidence to Create

Through collaboration and creative workflows, Malia created her own t-shirt design. For the first time she saw how her skill of drawing translated into digital art for screen printing. Her confidence grew when she completed this project and saw how other people benefited from her creativity.Thank you for supporting Cleveland students!!

No Struggle, No Strength

Destiny started our class unsure if she wanted to stay enrolled in it. In the years prior, she had lost her mother suddenly and was still carrying the weight of the grief on her shoulders. However, because of the trust and relationships built, she quickly found a safe place in our classroom to learn how to healthily feel, process, and regulate her emotions. Destiny was able to learn not only how to use her voice and express herself, but also transferable work skills, self-discipline, and knowledge in the music industry. By the end of the school year, she was very thankful she stayed and proud of the songs she wrote and produced.

Building Self-Esteem

We met Dennis in his 9th grade year, when he was a freshman at MC2 STEM High School in Cleveland. Dennis, by his own admission, had a severe lack of social skills and confidence—the first day of the Refresh program, he threw a chair at another student. But through Refresh, Dennis found an outlet and his voice. As someone who has been diagnosed with autism, Dennis made music about his story and struggles—and one of his songs even ended up on the news! Dennis has been a regular participant in Refresh programs and the Fresh Force summer job program ever since. He directly credits Refresh and Dee Jay Doc with growing his confidence. Dennis is now a regular performer and established hip-hop artist in Cleveland, and has graduated to the role of a teaching assistant—coming back to MC2 STEM High School in 2023 with Refresh Collective, this time as a teacher.

Building Creative Communication Skills

Lil Kili has worked with Refresh Collective since 2019. As a Ugandan immigrant who arrived in Cleveland in 2018, and as a lover of hip-hop music, Refresh was the very first place that he ever began recording music with others. 2023 will be his second "Fresh Force" summer job program, and he is a regular attendee of both after-school programs and our many performances across the city. As someone for whom English is a second language, Lil Kili has not only strongly developed his lyric-writing skills at Refresh but has also expanded his portfolio to include acting and video production. At Refresh programs, he has directed a sketch comedy, appeared in a short film inspired by the Cuban Missile Crisis, and helped design clothing. He most recently performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Refresh Collective, and since his first Fresh Force program, he has secured a video production internship using the skills he has developed at Refresh Collective. He has credited Refresh with helping him learn professional software, such as Final Cut Pro X and Logic, as well as better computer skills overall. He wrote, recorded and produced this testimonial video.