OUR FOUNDER

Gabriel Asheru Benn

Gabriel “Asheru” Benn, M.Ed. is an award winning, international Hip Hop artist, veteran educator, and social entrepreneur. Hailing from Washington DC, (via Barbados, W.I.), Benn has led a unique, double career path -- as both a Hip Hop artist and educator -- serving as a teacher and administrator in DC’s public, private, and charter schools for 18 years, and is nationally recognized as a pioneer of the Hip Hop Education movement. He is also widely known for his contributions to the hit TV show “The Boondocks”, for which Asheru co-wrote select songs and episodes, in show earned him the prestigious Peabody Award for

show earned him the prestigious Peabody Award for Journalism in 2006. Having performed, worked, and collaborated with youth orgs and artists and communities in over 25 countries, Benn was appointed as a U.S. State Department Global Hip Hop Cultural Ambassador in 2014.

Benn currently serves as the Founding Director of Guerilla Arts Ink, LLC (GA) - an arts/ education & media consulting organization which specializes in out-of-school time (OST) cultural arts programming, innovative curriculum design, professional development, creative placemaking, and youth engagement strategy. Through building and nurturing strategic public/private partnerships, Guerilla Arts has recently secured resources to serve as an accelerator for creative small businesses to become more economically viable. Other GA youth programs and community initiatives, include H.E.L.P, The Hip Hop Educational Literacy Program the High School 48 Hour Film Project, two “Space to Dream” creative placemaking projects, the Malcolm X Opportunity Center pop up, and served for three years under Empowering Males of Color (EMOC), a My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.

In addition to his work with Guerilla Arts and an extensive music career, Benn currently serves as a managing partner for the ed-tech start up, Words Liive (www.wordsliivebeta.com) digital, media literacy platform, and as a faculty member for Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), providing training and supports for educators in the areas of culturally responsive teaching practice, equity in the classroom, and arts and technology integration. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Virginia in 1996, a Masters in Education from National Louis University in 2004, and earned an Executive Certificate in Arts & Culture Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018.

EDUCATION

Executive Certificate in Arts & Culture Strategy

- University of Pennsylvania, August 2018

M.Ed., Curriculum & Instruction

- National-Louis University, June 2004

B.A., Anthropology

- University of Virginia, May 1996

AWARDS & HONORS

  • Reed Award winner, Best Use of Video on Social Platform, “What Do We Have To Lose” February 2017

  • Washington, DC Economic Partnership nominee, Creative Economics, Feb. 2016

  • SABC Radio Awards nominee, Best Collaboration of the Year, “So Amazing”, South Africa, 2015

  • NABJ Salute to Excellence Award:  Best Digital Media, Online Project, feature:  “BrotherSpeak: Exploring the Lives of Black Men” 2014

  • Global Hip Hop Cultural Ambassador, U.S. State Department, May 2014

  • Young, Gifted & Black Summit Recognized by Rep. Maxine Waters (CA), Congressional Black Caucus, June 2013

  • Peabody Award for Journalism, Peabody Awards, co-writing “Return of the King" Episode of The Boondocks, Cartoon Network, June 2006.

Professional Experience

Founding Director                                                                              January 2006 — Present

Guerilla Arts Ink, LLC

 

Senior Education Consultant                                                           June  2015 — Present

We the Willing, Inc.

Teaching Experience

•   Faculty, ASCD                                                                                                        March 2017 — present

•   Instructional Coach, Discovery Education                                                        Jan. 2015—Jan. 2017

•   Program Director/Lead Teaching Artist, Guerilla Arts Ink, LLC                     Sept. 2014 —present

•   Director of Arts Integration, Ballou High School, DC Public Schools           Sept. 2011—Aug ‘14

•   Director of Arts-in-Education, Rock Creek Academy, Wash, DC                   Sept. 2004—Aug ’07

•   Special Education Teacher, Rock Creek Academy                                          Sept. 2002— Aug. ’04

•   First Grade Teacher, Friendship Edison Schools                                            Sept. 2000 — Aug. ’02

•   Special Projects Consultant, Project NOMMO                                                Aug. 1999 - Sept. ’00

•   Teacher, Community Academy PCS                                                                 Sept.1997 — Aug.’99

•   Teacher, McGogney Elementary School                                                          Sept. 1996 - Aug.’97

INVITED Panels, Lectures & Workshops

•  Social Emotional and Academic Development Conference, San Antonio, TX, 2019

•  Featured speaker, “Art That Uplifts”, George Washington University’s Textile Museum, Washington, DC June 2019

•  Guest Lecturer, Teachers in the Movement Summer Teachers Institute, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA May 2019

•  Male Educators of Color Conference, Washington, DC March 2019

•  Male Educators of Color Conference, Washington, DC March 2018

•   Artist & Social Entrepreneurship Fellow, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA,  2018

•  Curator, Young Men’s Empowerment Summit, KIPP Schools, Washington, DC, February 2018

•   Presenter: 8th Annual Teaching With Purpose Conference: A Call to Culturally Responsive Teaching,  October 11, 2017

•  Featured Speaker: Institute for Diversity in the Arts, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 2017

•  Visiting Lecturer: University of Virginia, Curry School of Education, March 2017

•  Featured Presenter: ASCD Empower17 International Education Conference in Anaheim, CA, February 2017

•  Featured Speaker: Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, at the Truth to Power panel/social justice exhibit, with Danny Glover, Aaron Huey, Tatyana F. and Toure, September 2016

•  Tedx Columbia Heights Talk:  Guerilla Arts and the Power of Student Advocacy, March 2016

•  WeDC Ambassador: one of nine selected to represent Washington, DC at SXSW in Austin, TX, June 2016

•  Keynote Speaker: Interplay Hip Hop Symposium, Lehigh University, Lehigh Valley, PA , April, 2015

•  Presenter: “Next Level Workshops: Hip Hop Lyric Writing, Song and Performance Production” U.S. State Department and UNC Chapel Hill, Dhaka, Bangladesh, November 2014

•   Performance Lecture: “Hip Hop as a Cultural Approach to Bridge Building, Peacekeeping and Social Activism” University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, October 28, 2014

•   Presenter. “Kendrick Frost:  An Examination of Complex Text through the Writings of Robert Frost and Kendrick Lamar” 5th Annual Teaching With Purpose Conference: A Call to Culturally Responsive Teaching, Portland, OR, October 11, 2014

•   Keynote Speaker: Youth Media Rise Conference, Washington DC, September 28, 2014

•   Keynote Speaker:  Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Annual Public Media Development and Marketing Conference, Denver, Colorado; July 10, 2014

•   Panelist: “Sounds of Freedom”, a conversation with Asheru & Hugh Masekela, moderated by Dr. Frank Lipman.  Hosted by Deepak Chopra, Carnegie Hall & The Ubuntu Education Fund of South Africa. New York City, October 8, 2014

•   Guest Host: “Raise Up: Young People Talking About the Drop Out Crisis” Youth Speaks, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington D.C., September 28, 2014

•   Lecturer/Presenter:  “Guerilla Arts Ink, and Hip Hop as a Community Building Practice for Arts and Education Communities” Universidad de Costa Rica, August 2014

Topic of Publication

Author: “The Art & R.H.Y.T.H.M. of Teaching”, ASCD Publications, due 2020

Featured Subject in “Build: The Power of Hip Hop Diplomacy” in a Divided World by Dr. Mark Katz, Oxford University Press, USA 2019

Featured article, "You Don’t Know Me Like That!’ On Teacher Student Rapport”, Educational Leadership Magazine, 2018

Featured article, “They Just Know You Up To No Good”,  Politico Magazine, 2015

“Hip Hop Genius”. Seidel, Sam. Rowman & Littlefield Education. 2011

“Beat of a Different Drum”. Devlon-Ross, Dax. Hyperion Books. 2005

Key NATIONAL/ international Performances

•   Anime USA Conference, Washington, DC August 2019

•   Momocon, Atlanta GA 2019

•   Blerdcon Anime Conference 2018

•   Blerdcon Anime Conference , 2017

•   AnimeUSA Convention, 2016

•   5th Annual Teaching With Purpose Conference, Portland, OR, October 11, 2014

•   Shilpokola National Academy, Dhaka, Bangladesh; November 2014

•   San Jose, & Limon, Costa Rica; August 2014

•   Inaugural DC Funk Parade, Washington, D.C., July 2014

•   Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, Washington, DC 2014, 2013, & 2012

•   Keepers of the Art (KOTA) Annual Hip Hop Festival, Akron, OH September 2010-2014

•   Coca-Cola Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa, December 2012

•   FIFA World Cup Festivities Tour, Johannesburg, South Africa, June - July 2010

•   J Dilla Tribute Show, S.O.B.’s, NYC, 2010

•   DC Peace Mural Exhibition Showcase, Washington D.C., January 2, 2009

•   Fete de la Musique, Paris, France 2007

•   Paradiso, Amsterdam, Holland, 2005 and 2007

•   Mass Transit: The Movement of People Thru Sound – Hip-Hop for Sudanese Relief Las Vegas, NV, August 17, 2005

•   The National Hip-Hop Political Convention, Las Vegas, NV August 8, 2005

•   Brixton Academy, London, England 2004

•   La Scala, London England, 2002

ARTS/Education Curation projects

•    Words Live Platform - a digital lesson planning framework designed to allow teachers to make culturally responsive ELA lesson plans in under 5 clicks.  Voted 3rd place at SXSWEdu national competition in 2016!  (www.wordlivebeta.com)

•    H.E.L.P, The Hip Hop Educational Literacy Program Workshop Series - media literacy for all ages and reading levels, juxtaposing contemporary literature with classic, socially relevant Hip Hop lyrics

•    High School 48-Hour Film Project – a citywide filmmaking competition designed to  engage 13 high schools and over 120 students, culminating in a film festival at the Historic Lincoln Theatre

•    21st Century L.E.A.P., an 18-month, Literacy & STEAM-based program for elementary school boys currently taking place at Patterson ES in SW DC.

•    A Space to Dream, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s community engagement initiative designed to transform underused spaces across Washington, DC through the addition of public art projects and the development of creative, temporary uses of space that add to the health and well-being of the community. In conjunction with OAAA, DMGEO, and DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities

•    Chopt’ED - a collaborative, professional development workshop intended for educators to co-create media rich, culturally responsive, and arts integrated lesson plans for students

•    Malcolm X Opportunity Center (MXOC) Pop Up - community project designed to engage the youth ages 16-24 through innovative arts and cultural programming, workshops, classes, and community partnerships.  Outcomes included seven wall murals, a video/photo project, the building of a recording studio, and several youth- produced music productions, providing participants with access and hands-on exposure to collaborate with industry professionals and equipment.

MUSIC DISCOGRAPHY

Sleepless in Soweto LP                                                                               2013

by Asheru                                                                            

3 Stars, 2 Bars EP                                                                                         2007

By Asheru

Insomnia Vol.1: Sleepless in Japan                                                            2006

IMPORT ONLY

By Asheru

Insomnia Vol.1 LP                                                                                         2006

By Asheru                                                                                            

Black Moses 12”                                                                                            2005

By Asheru

No Edge Ups in South Africa                                                                       2003

By Seven Heads Entertainment

Mood Swing 12”                                                                                            2003

By Asheru feat. Talib Kweli & Raheem DeVaughn

48 Months LP                                                                                                2003

By Unspoken Heard

Soon Come LP                                                                                              2001

By Unspoken Heard

Jamboree EP                                                                                                1999

By Asheru

Better/Smiley 12”                                                                                       1998

By Unspoken Heard

Cosmology EP                                                                                             1997

By Unspoken Heard

Online Presence

Linkedin profile                                                                     www.linkedin.com/in/gabriel-asheru-benn
Wikipedia Biography                                                             http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asheru

Guerilla Arts Ink                                                                     www.wethewilling.org

Twitter (verified)                                                                     @Asheru

Instagram                                                                                @kingasheru_ga

Professional Memberships

  • Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)

  • Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA/ Grammys)

  • National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE)

  • American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)

References

References available upon request.

Washington Full Circle Interview

News One with Roland Martin Interview

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