The after-school program Rock to the Future brings music, fun, and a sense of community to youth at Roosevelt Elementary School.
Part of the Out-of-School Time (OST) program run by the city, Rock to the Future’s MusiCore program is a free student-driven program connecting youth with music.
Run by the Philadelphia Office of Children and Families, the OTS programs are community organization-run programs. They are available to all children but focus on youth who are or have previously been involved in the child welfare system.
These initiatives, like Rock to the Future, promote youth wellness. Rachel Godfrey, site director of MusicCore at Roosevelt Elementary School, hopes to fuel student’s creativity. Studies have found that music education can help cognitive development and stimulate emotional growth and social skills.
“I like to say that while we’re a music program, we use music as a tool. I think it absolutely helps students get in touch with their creativity,” says Godfrey
The MusiCore program in Germantown runs from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and provides free meals and free one-way SEPTA passes to get to the program and to return home.
Students have time to relax, eat, and socialize when they first arrive. Then, they start “circle-up time,” where kids can share their feelings through different activities.
After students rotate between instrument classes or band practice, they go to production classes and then the Ready for the Future portion of the day, where they focus on their classwork and learn about the workforce and professional pathways.
Beyond connecting youth with music, MusiCore wants to be a space where students learn collaboration, conflict resolution, and the importance of community building.
“I feel like it gives them a space where they are told that whatever you’re coming into here with, whether that be your experience, your talents, your interests, all of that is valuable here,” says Godfrey.
Youth Engagement Specialist MJ Jaramillo also teaches the students social-emotional learning tools that help them navigate conflicts. These lessons are also embedded throughout their workshops.
Godfrey lends voice to the importance of instilling these tools within students: “If a student shows up to band practice one day and someone is really irritating them, or they’re being really mean to someone else, how are we going to work this out? How are the students going to lead that kind of reconciliation amongst each other? I think we prioritize social-emotional learning in all of the spaces, and that contributes to the anti-violence aspect.”
In their 2022-23 Impact Report, 90% of MusiCore students self-reported improving one or more social-emotional skills, including grit, sense of belonging, self-efficacy, self-management, and self-worth.
There are MusiCore programs at Roosevelt Elementary School and Kensington High School. 6th to 12th-grade students can enroll in the program; those from neighboring schools such as Lingelbach and Wissahickon are encouraged to apply.
Students and families interested in joining the MusiCore program in Germantown can fill out the program interest form to learn more about enrollment.