Playing For Change Foundation grew out of a common belief that music has the power to connect people regardless of their differences. Founded in 2007, PFCF was established to create positive change through music and arts education. Our work engages marginalized youth in diverse communities around the world, primarily located in low and lower-middle income countries. These communities are home to great cultural wealth, which we use to create educational and social opportunities.   

We currently operate 15 music programs in 11 countries, and have positively impacted more than 40,000 lives since 2007, including more than 3,000 youth through regular programming in 2019. We employ more than 200 staff, teachers, and community leaders locally across program locations, including: Mali, Morocco, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. Each program serves anywhere from 50 - 900 children. PFCF was honored to be named a Polar Music Prize winner in 2019.

 

Local leadership
Social empowerement
Transparency

Changing the world through music requires localized knowledge, outreach, and vision. Our programs are organized to combat systematic social and economic disparity, as well as disparity intensified by crisis. Across many PFCF communities, our programming serves as the only access point to cultural and creative educational activities. These activities drive youth, community, and gender development, cultural preservation, social cohesion, and the promotion of social identities regardless of ethnicity, caste, class, and economic statuses.

We identify strong local leaders, primarily cultural actors, and empower them with the resources and strategies to drive positive change in their communities. This includes providing financial support, leadership development and human resource support, material capacity development, networking, educational resources and curriculum development, operational guidance, and emergency support, among other strategic factors. Local leadership is in the best position to determine how to realize this approach through programming.

 

Science has shown that learning music benefits people on many different levels. From enhancing cognitive capacities for children, teens and adults to helping memory, literacy, creativity, self confidence and collaboration skills, the power of music has already been demonstrated by hundreds of scientific studies.

One of our main goals is to provide the communities we serve the opportunity for economic and social development, through the educational and artistic activities that we develop. In order to foster sustainability, both locally and globally, we strive to establish valuable partnerships and collaborate with other organizations.

Our work also extends beyond music and arts education as we support essential needs for the communities we serve by providing emergency supplies, medical care or humanitarian support.

Science has shown that learning music benefits people on many different levels. From enhancing cognitive capacities for children, teens and adults to helping memory, literacy, creativity, self confidence and collaboration skills, the power of music has already been demonstrated by hundreds of scientific studies.

One of our main goals is to provide the communities we serve the opportunity for economic and social development, through the educational and artistic activities that we develop. In order to foster sustainability, both locally and globally, we strive to establish valuable partnerships and collaborate with other organizations.

Our work also extends beyond music and arts education as we support essential needs for the communities we serve by providing emergency supplies, medical care or humanitarian support.

Changing the world through music requires localized knowledge, outreach, and vision. Our programs are organized to combat systematic social and economic disparity, as well as disparity intensified by crisis. Across many PFCF communities, our programming serves as the only access point to cultural and creative educational activities. These activities drive youth, community, and gender development, cultural preservation, social cohesion, and the promotion of social identities regardless of ethnicity, caste, class, and economic statuses.

We identify strong local leaders, primarily cultural actors, and empower them with the resources and strategies to drive positive change in their communities. This includes providing financial support, leadership development and human resource support, material capacity development, networking, educational resources and curriculum development, operational guidance, and emergency support, among other strategic factors. Local leadership is in the best position to determine how to realize this approach through programming.

 

THE TEAM

 

Our team spans over 15 different countries and includes teachers and admins on the ground, staff and board members in the USA and  around the world.

 

THE TEAM

 

Our team spans over 15 different countries and includes teachers and admins on the ground, staff and board members in the USA and  around the world.

 

THE TEAM

 

Our team spans over 15 different countries and includes teachers and admins on the ground, staff and board members in the USA and  around the world.

 

VIDEO OVERVIEW

 

HOW IT ALL STARTED...

 

The idea of Playing for Change began almost two decade ago, as Grammy-winning music producer and engineer Mark Johnson was in the metro of New York, on his way to a recording studio:

I was in a subway in New York on my way to work, and I heard these two monks playing music. They were painted head to toe, all white, wearing robes. One was playing a nylon guitar, and the other was singing in a language I didn’t understand. There were about 200 people who stopped to watch, didn’t even get on the train. Some had tears in their eyes. And it occurred to me that here is a group of people that would normally run by each other, but instead they’re coming together. And it’s the music that brought them together.

Mark decided to take the studio to the streets, using a mobile recording studio and a simple camera set up. The first Playing For Change documentary was released in 2004, Playing for Change: A Cinematic Discovery of Street Musicians.

In 2005, after hearing musician Roger Ridley singing Stand By Me in the streets of Santa Monica, he decided to record and film him and take the song around the world to add musicians to it. Mark received the support of producer and philanthropist Whitney Kroenke and together they founded the Playing For Change movement in order to connect, inspire and change the world through music. 

In November 2008,  the video of Stand By Me around the world was posted on Youtube and went viral in a just few days. In 2009, the secons PFC documentary, Peace Through Music, was premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Since then Playing For Change has produced hundreds of music videos and inspired millions of people around the world through the power of music.  The Playing For Change Band, a tangible, traveling representation of our mission, featuring musicians from different continents, has been playing over 400 concerts in more than 25 countries over the last decade.  

In 2020 Playing for Change has reached over 1 Billion views on Youtube, covering classic songs and creating original songs, featuring world class artists and shining a light on talented unknown musicians.

Here are some of the artist that have been performing on Playing For Change videos: Keith Richards, Ringo Starr, Bono, Manu Chao, Jack Johnson, Tom Morello, Sara Bareilles, Robbie Robertson, Toots Hibbert, Stephen Marley, Bunny Wailer, Buddy Guy, Keb’ Mo’, Ernest Ranglin, David Crosby, Dr. John, Lila Downs, Toto la Momposina, Manuel Galbán, The Doobie Brothers, Toumani Diabaté, Tinariwen, Warren Haynes, James Gadson, John Densmore among many more...

 

OUR PROGRAMS AROUND THE WORLD

MUSIC AS A TOOL FOR EDUCATION AND SOCIAL CHANGE

The Playing For Change Foundation is an international non-profit organization founded in 2007 operating 15 music programs across 11 countries.