Rhythm of Change (ROC)

“The path to creating world change is inwards".

ROC is bringing a new rhythm to the world.

Inspired by research at Oxford University, Rhythm of Change (ROC) is a dynamic, sustainable social enterprise founded by Shelly Burton in association with a global collective of artists and change makers.

Our mission is to awaken the next generation’s potential to make a difference, through a new wave of music and multimedia programs.


Around the world, there are areas with especially high rates of youth violence. The Bronx.  Kingston, Jamaica.  Mumbai, India.  The favelas of Brazil.  ROC believes that what’s missing are constructive avenues for youth to build respect for themselves and others.

Therefore ROC will:

  1. Cultivate and celebrate youth’s brilliance towards making a difference
  2. Inspire a belief in the potential of youth and the communities they live in, particularly in emerging areas
  3. Spark a positive shift in mainstream music culture.


  1. ROC Creative Centres:  a new wave of learning centres that offer artistic, multimedia, and community outreach programmes for youth.

In our creative spaces, youth will come together, constructively engage with each other, and learn drumming, dancing, DJ’ing and art, as well as experience guided meditations.  Young people will be guided by locally respected artists.  Youth will collaborate with their peers in developing their talent, and to put on a concert for the community.

Participation will be in exchange for giving back to their communities through Project Lift, service projects of their own design and choosing.

2. ROC Voice Network: an innovative network to facilitate constructive interaction between global youth.

This multimedia platform will connect ROC centre participants into virtual conversations with youth from partner programs worldwide. Youth will explore the similarities and unique aspects of their cultures and lives, towards the building of common ground.  This will help broaden perspectives on the world and inspire youth to new possibilities.

ROC Voice will allow youth from different places to co-create positive songs, videos and other art forms.  The creative products of this process will be shared with the world.


Our first centers are being established in Toronto, Canada and Cape Town, South Africa, to be linked with similar existing programs: the Black Eyed Peas’ Peapod Music and Arts Academy (Compton, Los Angeles, California), the Stephen Lawrence Centre (Deptford, London, U.K.) and the Preston Arts Centre (Preston, Nova Scotia, Canada).  We will then seek to expand our centers around South Africa, and eventually around the world (Brazil, India, Kenya).


Value Proposition


Customer Relationships

Key Activities

Financial Resources

Human Resources

Physical Resources

Intellectual Resources

Key Partners

Unanswered Questions

Unanswered questions about the venture include:

How to set up a formal charity in Canada. Currently, the organization is being run as a non-profit branch of the sole proprietorship, Rhythm of Change.

How to set up a legal and donation structure, that allows for expansion to countries around the world as well as collaboration with local charities, in countries such as Uganda, South Africa etc.

- How to set up a structure that can issue tax receipts to US donors.

How to set up clear contracts with volunteers, including international ones.

Marketing support and tips for creating contracts with brand partners, including ethical companies.

- Project management support structures, and access to spaces to receive the project.

We would love your support with the above items. Including mentoring on global expansion, and how to set up a charity that operates in different countries. This includes logistical and project management support for local volunteers and coordinators (for example, on the ground in South Africa). How would we pay them? How do we minimize work transfer fees? Do we set up charities in each country, down the road, or is it best to align with local ones? If we align with local ones, is World Vision available? Or do you have recommended process for checking local programs accountability and transparency?







Strengths & Weaknesses

Critical Assumptions

We have made a critical assumption about commercial interest, around the market audience. This is linked to the financial sustainability plan.

The beneficiaries of the Rhythm of Change i.e. the “Community Interest” are a group of young people who represent a very specific market sector;

This market sector is one which is of significant commercial interest, as the market audience, whilst in themselves do not have economic power, do have commercial power. This is due to the fact that the behaviours/language/dress/aspirations which are peculiar to the culture of this group of young people captures an image that large companies, such as Adidas and Nokia*, wish their products to be associated with.

Rhythm of Change proposes using the commercial value of its” beneficiary” audience to:

1. Attract investment from large corporate companies, where the “return” is the association with the Rhythm of Change “brand” and its work.

This will include: offering sponsorship packages for its high profile music/dance/arts events which showcase the changes made in young people’s lives through participation in ROC programs.

*Note: ROC will only work with companies with an ethical standard of manufacturing. Nokia and Adidas are cited as examples in this work, as both companies have previously approached the Founder, Shelly Burton, about collaboration.

2. Deliver a high profile marketing campaign to sell its own designer range of clothing and paraphernalia, using recognized music/dance artists.

Note: the incentive for locally respected, positive and upcoming artists to get involved is platform for global recognition and appreciation of their work. We can offer separate artist consulting services through a company called “Change Music” which is a subsidiary of Rhythm of Change (ROC).

Most Significant Challenge

- One of our most significant challenges will be bridging the gap between different cultures across the world. Since this project is one on a global scale, we hope to bring our interactions and workshops that we test locally to schools and community organizations across the world. A major challenge will be to create consistent training in those who join the ROC Collective, so as to create standards of safety, procedures and regulations that govern and are sensitive to the various cultural needs of a given location. Hence, bringing a project of this size to scale will involve having many workers and volunteers in different parts of the world, who are connected through a web based platform, that is used as an archive as well as a source of inspiration for those joining the Rhythm of Change ventures.

- We must also be sensitive to the various mental and emotional health needs of each location. Shelly’s experience as a medical anthropologist, trained at Oxford University, will be most helpful in this regard. Working with local community members, artists, healers and health workers will be imperative, to gain a thorough understanding of the youth situations and their needs, so the relevant and engaging programs can be effectively implemented from the ROC framework.

Project coordination and effective management will be a challenge which we are ready to tackle as we expand from the ground up, gaining solid footing in each location before spreading to another, with the support of experts in the field.

- A major challenge for the ROC voice and global interconnection aspect, is also to have consistent access to a good internet connection. Participants must also have a safe way of traveling to the project locations, which will depend on thorough planning and safety measures taken with local project managers.

- An additional challenge for the ROC Voice Network live conversations, will be coordinating timing between difference countries, where time differences could be quite large. This will depend on solid planning, and most likely conducting youth activities on the weekends (to account for where children are in school).

- Lastly, equipment stored in each country must be kept safe. We will need to gain the support of local community members and clearly demonstrate the benefit to the community of our work to help minimize risk. Moreover, safety measures will be designed in coordination with local consultants who are experts in the field.

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