As a new school year begins for students across America, a South Los Angeles public charter school is offering 7th and 8th graders an educational hip-hop program as an elective course. The Global Awareness Through Hip-Hop Class will begin its second year and is taught by the course’s creator, Sebastien Elkouby. It is the only hip-hop program being offered as an elective in the US. Elkouby, the founder of the Urban Youth Empowerment Foundation, created the program to address the educational crisis affecting inner city students. “For a variety of reason, these students feel completely disconnected from the traditional educational process and, ultimately, they give up,” Elkouby says. “This program helps students develop critical thinking skills by using hip-hop to analyze pop culture media and social movements, while simultaneously teaching students language arts, history, social studies, cultural diversity, geography and health. Using hip-hop as a medium to reach students makes sense considering they have such a strong connection to its culture. Last year’s success of the program confirms it works.”