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Beats Rhymes and Life


San Francisco


Empowering At-Promise Youth Through the Therapeutic Power of Hip Hop


In 2004, while working as a school social worker, Tomás Alvarez III pioneered an innovative ‘Hip Hop Therapy’ model that used the process of creating rap music to engage troubled teens in mental health services. With support from Beats Rhymes and Life (BRL) Co-founder and Teaching Artist, Rob Jackson, Tomás sought to create a therapeutic program that was grounded in the lives and worldview of the young men with whom he was working. The results were promising. Participants in the pilot Hip Hop Therapy group reported improved mood and self-esteem, as well as a reduction in many at-risk behaviors. And from there, demand in the Bay Area for Hip Hop Therapy grew tremendously.

Today, Beats Rhymes and Life is a leader in the emerging field of Hip Hop Therapy. The organization continues to provide support for kids who would otherwise fall through the cracks. They primarily target kids who would be fearful of going to other ‘official’ channels of support because of their parents’ immigration status, any past felonies or a general distrust of authorities based off experience.

Why It Matters

Beats Rhymes and Life provides a safe, trusted environment where local youth can embrace healthy mental practices. And above that – it embraces a creative and daring approach to confronting societal issues. BRL is proof that creativity has the power to make an impact and work towards solving society’s biggest challenges.

LEWIS is proud support BRL as part of its Causes program and further the organization’s mission of empowering at-promise youth through the therapeutic power of Hip Hop. Mental health shouldn’t be reliant on visas, wealth or an individual’s criminal history. And our kid’s mental health definitely shouldn’t either.

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