Girls Rock! Chicago (GR!C) is a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to fostering girls’ creative expression, positive self-esteem, and community awareness through rock music. Since 2006, GR!C has been providing music education programs for girls ages eight to sixteen with a focus on empowerment. Typically targeted as consumers of popular culture, the girls engaged in GR!C programming are nurtured as producers, authors, and critics of contemporary audio culture. Through our work, we provide a platform for girls to feel empowered to creatively amplify their collective voices.

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 also 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.

Girls Rock! Chicago was founded in the Fall of 2005, initially forming a nine-member board, organizing fundraisers, and collecting gear donations. In August 2006, we held our first annual camp at Roosevelt University. The first camp featured a small group of dedicated volunteers and sixteen enthusiastic campers between the ages of eight and sixteen.

The first annual camp and subsequent months were met with so much enthusiasm that the next year’s camp nearly quadrupled in size, with an enrollment of sixty girls. Despite the rapid increase in enrollment, with nearly all of the previous year’s campers returning, GR!C managed to keep a four-to-one camper to counselor ratio. GR!C continued to expand and refine its programing into 2008.

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 a long weekend. Camp participants learned to play an instrument, formed a band, wrote a song, and performed it at Schubas--in just three days! Since then, GR!C has continued to expand its summer camps, and is now poised to pilot a new after school program.

The core program offered by GR!C is our Girls Rock! Summer Camp. Camp has grown from a six-day experience for sixteen girls in the summer of 2006, to two week-long sessions for nearly 150 girls in 2013. Our week-long, multifaceted Summer Camp is organized around empowering young women through a multitude of activities. Campers are guided by positive, supportive volunteer mentors through instrument instruction, music composition, team-building activities, technical equipment workshops, recording music at a professional studio, band performances, and more. Volunteer mentors also act as inspiring and uplifting role models, through which they share their experiences as women involved in any of the various forms of making music.