Beats & Rhymes was founded in 2007 at the Nellie Stone Johnson Beacons Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Shortly after the program was founded, the YMCA received a grant from Best Buy to fund this new venture. Its purpose was to provide school-age kids the chance to experience making and recording music in a way they could relate to. Each student has to complete their homework in order to participate in the after-school program. It was designed to provide challenging, positive youth and career development opportunities for low income, culturally-diverse youth.


The Beats & Rhymes program has produced and released 8 albums with the various groups it has developed. The NSJ Crew, consisting of just students from Nellie Stone Johnson Community School, was the first group to form. In 2010, the program expanded with the Y.N.RichKids (“Why enrich kids?”) at the North Community YMCA Youth & Teen Enrichment Center where it was able to include kids from many schools around the neighborhood, as well as high school kids. More groups are being developed at Lucy Laney Community School, among many others.

Beats & Rhymes is used as a vehicle to help young people more fully develop their writing, technical, business, academic and social skills. The program uses positive youth development principles and project-based learning to promote leadership skills and cultural tolerance. They teach youth technology skills in the area of music production and engineering.

The mission of Beats & Rhymes is to provide schools and community centers with the knowledge and resources they need to implement their own successful program, and subsequent music group. If you are interested in doing this for your own program, please visit the EDUCATION section.

Thank you to the following for their support:

Nellie Stone Johnson YMCA Beacons Center
North Community YMCA Youth & Teen Enrichment Center
YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities
Best Buy Children’s Foundation
KMOJ Radio
United Way
John Baker
Behind Bars Bicycle Shop
North Star Roller Girls
Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Twins
Families & friends of Beats & Rhymes
Past & present members of The NSJ Crew and Y.N.RichKids