The Education Challenge

In today’s multicultural global society, teachers are faced with the struggles of developing and/or reframing curricula to be more culturally responsive, relevant, and creatively engaging; including helping students succeed academically while working within the context of mandated state standards, testing, and rote learning.

Research has shown the profound challenges faced by educators to include arts-integrated lesson plans and activities that not only focus upon and improve students’ achievement levels, self-esteem, social awareness, and civic participation, but facilitate conversations through a multicultural lens, and build life skills vital for degree completion and success working in the 21st century.

MeMA-Music, now in its 11th year, addresses these challenges  through our collaborative, arts-integrated social justice program:

  • Encourages student voice—a supportive environment
  • Is relevant and responsive to students’ culture, home lives, and identity
  • Empowers youth for active citizenship
  • Inspires critical thinking
  • Prepares youth for life and work
  • Promotes confidence and builds self-esteem
  • Nurtures students’ creativity
  • Motivates students to learn about what’s going on in their world



MeMA-Music is built upon the principle that high-quality arts-integrated education programs can improve student engagement and daily attendance, lift up student voices, strength­en cultural identity, resolve trauma, improve school climate and culture, foster a shared vision for societal change, and increase academic achievement. Students make authentic connections across the arts and other content areas, making the class more interesting.

Music, Literacy, and Historical Awareness

Music offers a powerful way to connect academic les­sons to the real world. We offer a diverse and compelling curriculum that integrates music and videos as a dynamic teaching tool to engage students in understanding the historical roots and development of how we manage problems in contemporary society. With a focus on socially conscious music from the 60s-70s, students investigate music lyrics to identify themes of socio-political issues and make comparisons to current music and issues.

Student Voices

By sharing the history of youth who have fought for the betterment of society through artistic expression, MeMA-Music encourages students to create and voice their own unique and powerful messages that articulate the change(s) that they themselves envision for the world. They will learn how they can become responsible, well-informed citizens, working independently or in groups to promote social justice.


Remember When Music Served As A Rallying Call For Young People Who Led The Fight For Cultural And Political Change?

MeMA-Music teaches youth to recognize the power of music as a voice for social justice in our world, by integrating music and lyrics with social studies through themes looking at liberation struggles, and socio-political movements from the past to the present. Students examine ways in which music and art have served as an instrument for expressing social change, shifting public opinion, conceptions of equality, and political activism and civic engagement–while increasing academic achievement. Our lesson plans and activities engage students in real-life issues, relate them to their personal lives, and make connections to the lives of other students from diverse cultures.


Our arts-integrated residency program “Voice Your Soul” exposes youth to many of music’s most influential recording artists and songs from social justice movements during the 60s and 70s—regarded as music that changed America —conscious hip hop in the 80s, and current music with positive messages of change. Students examine how this music played an essential role in social-movement campaigns during the Civil Rights Movement, the Chicano Movement, the Vietnam War, the Women’s Rights Movement, the fight for gender equality, and more. Music was what inspired young people to take collective action, stand up for their beliefs, and change the world around them; we aim to inspire the same sense of purpose and power in today’s young people.

At the end of the program, students apply what they learned about how young people fought for social justice in the past and present, and create their own Messages of Change projects using various art forms that draw on their own interests and strengths—media arts, visual artwork, writing—songs, rap, poetry, skits— drama, and more to express themselves in their own personal way.  Check out our student project snippets

Meet Our Founder, Jeanne Warsaw-Gazga

Chicago native Jeanne Warsaw-Gazga’s career experience in the music business provides her with unique insight into the world of popular music and how music can be a voice for change.  She has spent over 20 years working in the music industry, marketing, and promoting multi-million dollar international recording artists such as Janet Jackson, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Lenny Kravitz, and hundreds more. Jeanne‘s music industry career began with legendary Chicago retail chain Rose Records, for whom she worked as a buyer. She quickly rose to work in promotion and marketing for Sony Records and dedicated herself to the music business ever since, having served as Promotion and Marketing Director for RCA/BMG, Elektra/Warner Bros., and Virgin/EMI. During that time, Jeanne actively worked with recording artists to bring their music to the community and into schools to speak with young people about social issues and how music can be a voice for change. Jeanne’s professional network provides a connection to active musicians, and artist professionals in the community.