Pages Navigation Menu

Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls Launches Indiegogo Campaign

In Brooklyn, New York in the Clinton Hill/Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood on Irving Place, there are voices that cannot be quieted. They are the voices of hundreds of young girls and women from all walks of life. You may not know their names or their families, but you should know that they are our future and the brick building on 87 Irving Place called Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls is where they are being empowered.

In 2005, Willie Mae Rock Camp was developed under the simple premise that “girls rock!” In the several years since its creation, the organization has become a multi-faceted program that has changed the lives of thousands of young girls and women. A small staff, all-female Board of Directors, over 150 volunteers and the community is what keeps Willie Mae in operation.

The non-profit organization recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to help fund its Clubhouse.

The Clubhouse is a one-room space near Willie Mae’s main office that opened last month. It is a safe and fun environment where students can meet with friends, make art, listen to music, read, and be themselves. Willie Mae hopes to earn $7,500 by Jan. 31. This is half of the estimated $15,000 that will be needed for the entire year. Funds earned will be used for staffing, supplies and room set up (students have already started decorating the space with custom artwork).

“The Willie Mae Music Lab Clubhouse is a place where the youth can just hang out with one another, have conversations, dream up big plans, talk about their various and diverse communities, draw, play, sing, and grow together,” says Program Director Emmet Moeller, who has been involved with the non profit since 2005. “…participants are already talking about how much they love hanging out in there, about the ways it’s a nice break from the reality of living out in the world, how they feel respected and heard in that space.”

The organization and its many parts are accessible to all girls. Willie Mae even offers flexible tuition to accommodate those who come from low-income households.

When asked to recount a special memory associated with the organization, Moeller shared:

“Just last week, I went to the Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCA to support an open house for a program that we run there as part of their Friday Teen Nights. The program’s band coach and I set up all the instruments and got everything ready for the young women who were going to come check out the program.

The students started to filter in, looking a little shy and uncertain what to do, but as soon as they got on the instruments they unleashed a wall of epic music! They were jamming immediately (even though most of them had never touched the instrument they were playing before), making sounds, listening to one another, and most importantly – communicating with one another.

I was immediately covered in goosebumps and had tears in my eyes. This happens every time we put instruments in the hands of a group of female-identified youth. Every time, without fail.”

If you would like to donate to the Willie Mae fundraiser, visit the campaign on Indiegogo. Those unable to make monetary donations might consider sending magazines, books, art supplies and games, or just spreading the word.

Find out more about the available programs below…

As an after-school program, Willie Mae is a safe place “where girls can be loud, explore new ideas collaboratively, and take charge of their own creative expression.”

Rock Camp for Girls is a week-long program for young girls and teens, aged 8 to 18, that offers workshops, band practice, songwriting, instrument lessons, live performances by visiting musicians and more. Two camp sessions are held each summer at the Urban Assembly School of Music and Art. Ladies Rock Camp is a three-day music program with the same perks as the girls’ Rock Camp but for adult women.

Willie Mae Music Lab is a mentoring program that allows teens to be expressive through music. Lessons in keyboards, vocals, guitar and drums are available. There are also weekend workshops, coaches, free instrument rentals, and practice time for two bands. Participants have the opportunity to “perform their own original music at Lincoln Center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Intrepid, and at street festivals everywhere, with no apologies and no boundaries.”

For more information, visit the official Willie Mae Rock Camp website.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *