MISSION: Girls Rock! Chicago is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering girls’ creative expression, self-esteem and community awareness through music. Through our music education programs for girls ages 8 to 16, we are committed to educating girls about the musical, technical, and creative aspects involved in musicianship because we believe that young girls are rarely encouraged to explore self-expressive creative outlets and are less likely to be given access to musical and technical instruction or equipment. We believe that rock music can be a crucial tool in allowing young women to respond to preconceived notions of what they can do and what they can become.
Our week-long summer camp program is organized around motivating girls ages 8-16 through instrument instruction, music composition coaching, recording workshops, song-writing workshops, hands-on activities, technical equipment workshops, guest speakers, team-building activities and band performances. We seek to provide positive and supportive role models for campers though interaction and participation by volunteers who will share their experiences as women involved in some form of making music.
We believe in maintaining an emphasis on accessibility to ensure that girls have access to equipment and instruction regardless of their socio-economic background, race, ethnicity, or neighborhood. Our application is based on a sliding-scale tuition and no one is turned away for lack of funding.
Girls Rock! Chicago was founded in the Fall of 2005 when two groups of like-minded women, both seeking to start a Chicago camp, found each other and combined resources. GR!C formed a 9-member board, organized fundraisers, collected gear donations, secured a space at Roosevelt University, and held our first annual camp in August 2006. Our first camp featured a small group of dedicated volunteers and 16 enthusiastic campers between the ages of 8-16
While GR!C’s initial programming was modeled around that of the Portland and New York camps, our camp added a 7th day, allowing the girls to record their original songs in a professional recording studio. One band, the Jagged Tulips, formed at the summer’s camp, was asked open for Nina Hagen as part of Estrojam music festival.
The first annual camp and subsequent months were met with so much enthusiasm, that the 2007 camp nearly quadrupled in size, with an enrollment of 60 campers. The 2nd annual camp was held at Avondale Elementary School, and featured a newly refined curriculum and over 75 volunteers. Despite the rapid increase in enrollment, with nearly all of the previous year’s campers returning, GR!C managed to keep a 4 to 1 camper to counselor ratio. In 2007, 15 bands were formed, allowing us to move our final showcase from Schubas, with a capacity 250, to the 1100 capacity Metro. In 2008 GR!C looked to further refine and organize our programming.
The third annual camp was held at Inter-American Magnet School, and featured 72 campers, an even larger core of volunteers, and greater press exposure. More than half of the 2008 participants were returning campers from 2007.
In 2009 GR!C hosted our first annual Ladies Rock Camp for women over 19. The camp was held at Music Garage rehearsal space over memorial day weekend. Camp participants learned to play an instrument, formed a band, wrote a song, and performed it at Schubas – in just three days!
LADIES ROCK CAMP is a fundraiser for our summer camp. Each person that attends Ladies Rock Camp supplies the funds needed for one camper’s summer tuition.
Our fourth annual summer camp was held at Pritzker Elementary School, in Chicago’s Wicker Park Neighborhood. The largest camp to date saw GR!C admitting 80 campers, who formed 20 bands!
Due to overwhelming enthusiasm of our 2009 camps, GR!C offered two sessions of our girls camp is 2010. GR!C’s 2010 Girls Rock camps were held at Josephinum Academy.
Our fifth annual summer was the first in which we offered both keyboards and DJing, as well as two showcases at Chicago’s renowned Metro.
In the summer 2011, GR!C hosted two sessions of our summer camp for girls in June and August at Josephinum Academy, and a single session of Ladies Rock camp in July.
The June and July camp sessions of 2012 hosted by Chicago Quest broke attendance records. The first camp session accepted enough campers to form 21 groups, thereby extending the showcase lineup by two camper bands. Attendance at both session showcases hosted by Bottom Lounge also hit record highs.
GR!C is actively working to offer year round and after school programming, as well as hosting all ages events and performances. As the organization continues to grow, we are seeking to add a permanent space and to pay year-round staff.
Girls Rock! Chicago is a proud member of the international Girls Rock Camp Alliance
FOR MORE INFORMATION about all things GR!C, please take a look at our Annual Reports: