On Friday, October 6th at the A3C Festival & Conference, five civic ventures from around the US took the stage for A3C Action, a pitch competition searching for the best ideas nationally using hip hop culture and art to address social justice challenges. Five finalists were selected out of more than 140 applications.

Atlanta's own, Marcus Blackwell, Jr. of Make Music Count won first place, as well as the Audience Choice Award - and $5,000. Make Music Count increases elementary and secondary students' mathematical skill development through piano playing and reducing their math anxiety. By incorporating music into each lesson, students become engaged through music while simultaneously learning mathematical concepts. 

Second place - and $2,000 - went to Breaking The Chains, an initiative at Rikers Island jail that aims to allow youth within four facilities at Rikers to write around specific themes and be featured in monthly performances during their incarceration. 

Media Rhythm Institute received $1,000 and $500 was also awarded to both Real Life Poets and Girls Cut Films, Too

"A3C Action Pitch Night was an absolute highlight this year.  The room was captivated by the seven A3C Action finalists. Their passion and commitment to social justice and community was contagious and everyone was inspired and lifted. It's very easy to be pessimistic about the future, but with folks like these fighting for their community it because clear there are brighter days ahead.  As one A3C Action finalist said, "I believe this room is the real silent majority.” says Mike Walbert, Executive Director of A3C Festival & Conference.

“A3C Action gives a unique spotlight to organizations that are grinding day in, day out in their communities. These are individuals that show us what the world could and should look like if we engaged creatives in addressing systemic social justice challenges.” says Rohit Malhotra, Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Civic Innovation.


Judges of the A3C Action pitch competition included Liz Havistad, Hip Hop Caucus’ Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director, Dallas Austin, Grammy-award winning Superproducer & CEO of Rowdy Digital Media, Nora Rahimian, #CultureFix Co-founder and Lead Strategist, No Malice, Hip Hop Artist and Founder of REinvision, YoNasDa Lonewolf, Human Rights Activist/ National Organizer Public Speaker, and CCI's own Programs Director, Melonie Tharpe.

About A3C Festival & Conference

A3C Festival & Conference is the preeminent hip-hop event in the US, commonly referred to as “hip-hop’s family reunion.” A3C strives to empower, engage, and energize the community that shape and define hip-hop culture. The A3C Conference remains an unparalleled opportunity to connect and learn from hip-hop influencers, artists, organizations, and industry experts.

About Center For Civic Innovation

The Center for Civic Innovation is a community-driven research and development lab for local governments, nonprofits, and social entrepreneurs. Our mission is to push Atlanta to be a smart, equitable, and engaged city by investing in community-driven ideas, supporting social enterprises, and engaging people in dialogue and action. For more information, please visit www.civicatlanta.org.

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Charmas Baylock, charmas@a3chiphop.com, A3C Festival & Conference

Andrea Cervone, andrea@civicatlanta.org, Communications Manager, Center for Civic Innovation