Girls Rock Austin is dedicated to empowering womxn, girls, trans and gender-expansive individuals through music education, mentorship and self-care. GRA firmly believes financial, physical, and social barriers should not prevent anyone from gaining the self-esteem, self-efficacy and agency that comes from creative expression and thus provide scholarships and financial assistance for all of our programs. Through mentorship and creative expression, we aim to provide a safe space for folks to try new things, gain leadership and collaboration skills, share their stories and be heard, creating a positive social change in both our local communities and the world at large.
Girls Rock Camp & the GRA Virtual Camp
Since 2007, GRA has been committed to working with girls and gender-expansive youth primarily through Girls Rock Camp, our summer day camp program, along with our after school programs and weekend workshops. Our programs are a total mind and body experience as all of our campers receive music instruction in guitar, bass, keys, drums and vocals, plus mentorship, and an education on topics ranging from STEM related subjects to self-care and social justice, taught by women, trans and non-binary musicians in Austin. GRA also provides all of the instruments, equipment and necessary gear to start rocking plus nutritious meals to help keep our rockstars energized.
Changing GRA’s programs from in-person exchanges to interactive virtual educational experiences at first was a struggle, but we pulled together our allies and resources to create a program that brought the same magical combination of creative expression and collaboration to our Girls Rock Campers, but delivered safely into the homes of our campers, wherever that may be as many of our campers are in the custody of the state and live in various foster and group homes in Austin, such as the Settlement Home for Children.
Through the Mighty Network, an online platform used to host GRA’s online community and our live and prerecorded workshops, we’ve been able to give each camper their own profile on our own internal social media page (no outsiders, only campers, staff and volunteers) where they were able to share ideas, songs, pictures, videos, and links on topics they’re interested in and chat with their instructors, band managers (counselors) and producers (band coaches) as well as other campers. All chats and threads have been monitored and moderated by our staff to ensure conversations are appropriate and to prevent any bullying (including self-deprecation). We have been using Google Meet for live one-on-one instrument instruction and Soundtrap to teach campers how to make beats and loops, record and collaborate with each other on different tracks to create an original song, and then a live musical video for the livestreamed Song Showcase where we debut the campers original songs. The world is their stage, even when it’s limited to the room they’re in, so we encourage theatricality with workshops on Costume Design and Stage Presence.
As our staff and instructors are primarily made up of Austin artists and musicians that are women, gender-minorities and people of color, GRA understands the importance of not exploiting the very people we are trying to help and thus provides stipends to fairly compensate them for their time, travel expenses and supplies.
Operation Lunch Box
In June 2020, Girls Rock Austin started the Operation Lunch Box Initiative, partnering with Keep Austin Together, a Travis County-supported emergency food access network, to provide folks in our community affected by the pandemic, prepared nutritious meals that can be easily easily frozen or microwaved (instead of product boxes with ingredients that need to be cooked). GRA’s Operation Operation Lunch Box Initiative has currently provided over 2,500 prepared nutritious meals to Austin artists, musicians and their families who have been affected by COVID-19.
The GRA Rock-A-Rama is a monthly livestream event to help raise funds for scholarships for GRA’s 2021 Virtual Programs and GRA’s Operation Lunch Box Initiative. By facilitating a respectful, courteous and informative discussion on relavant issues and topics with a diverse celebrity panel of Austin-based musicians and artists led by a certified professional in that field, GRA aims to educate folks and display the tools and healthy strategies needed to openly listen and communicate in a productive way, especially with their friends, family and others about sensitive issues.
In addition to the discussion panel, the GRA Rock-A-Rama will include performances from our musical guests, in hopes that showcasing their talents in a supportive interactive virtual setting would earn them new fans to support their crafts and in turn inspire those fans to adopt these tools and strategies for healthy and effective communication in their everyday life.
The GRA Rock-A-Rama closes with a fun game of musical trivia. With goals of supporting and promoting local Austin businesses and artisans and enticing viewers to stay tuned in through the end, GRA uses the allure of watching our contestants compete to win weird and wonderful prizes, with an Austin flair for themselves and a few lucky at home audience members. Folks can enter the monthly GRA Rock-A-Rama Raffle for their chance to be a contestant or win a prize, simply by making a donation to Girls Rock Austin.