February 27, 2022
Leaders with the nonprofit organization say the name change reflects its commitment to evolving and expanding its mission of inclusivity, creativity, and self-confidence to include female-identifying and gender-diverse youth.
Photo Credit: WCCB
“Our organization has always been devoted to building a community that promotes inclusivity and equity,” says founder and Executive Director Kelly Finley. “It sprang from my own desire to see my child grow up in a world where they wouldn’t have to feel discriminated against or lesser than in any part of their life, no matter what they wanted to do or who they wanted to be.”
Founded in 2014 as Girls Rock Charlotte, the nonprofit was created to provide immersive, collaborative music-and-film-making experiences for young women in the Charlotte area.
For over eight years the organization has served more than 250 individuals, providing hands-on experiences to build their confidence and amplify their own voices as well as others in the community.
Leaders with We Rock Charlotte say as conversations of gender diversity and identity continue to be had in today’s culture, they felt passionate that the brand and mission of the organization should evolve to accurately reflect the diversity of the community of young people they serve as well as the Charlotte community at large.
“A growing percentage of the young people who engage with our programs self-identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, and creating a safe, inclusive, empowering space for each young person to be themselves and express themselves is critically important to us as an organization,” says Finley.
In addition to the name change, We Rock Charlotte has absorbed Pachyderm Music Lab – which was deemed the “Best Music Organization” by QC Nerve in 2021 as well as achieved national recognition in Guitar Girl Mag’s 2021 Winter issue.
Krystle Baller, veteran Rock Camp Director, founded Pachyderm after the first Girls Rock Camp in Charlotte.
Baller says she is excited to take on her evolving role as creative director for We Rock Charlotte as the organization merges with Pachyderm.
“I was so inspired by the power and creativity I saw at Rock Camp. It’s where I discovered my knack for teaching. Pachyderm was an organic evolution that rose to meet the need of “What happens after rock camp?”. The symbiotic relationship between us always existed. We Rock is the next stage in that evolution and I’m honored to continue the work as one organization nurturing socially responsible artists of all genders and backgrounds.”
We Rock Charlotte will also be expanding its programming and offerings to include year-round music classes and workshops, corporate team-building and leadership retreat experiences, and community events hosted on their private outdoor stage at a restored historic home in the NoDA neighborhood of Charlotte.
Leaders say the organization also plans to reintroduce in-person camp experiences this coming summer, after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
“We are so proud of the programming we create — the camps and workshops and events — but our goal isn’t to train professional musicians or filmmakers,” says We Rock Charlotte’s creative director Krystle Baller. “We seek to create a generation of allies and activists who are unapologetically themselves and have the confidence to create disruptive, meaningful change in their community by speaking out.”
The organization’s rebranding was developed in collaboration with Wray Ward, a marketing and creative agency who selected We Rock Charlotte as a recipient of their EmpoWWer service grant program.
“We Rock Charlotte was a natural fit for our service grant program because of the way they are empowering girls and gender-diverse people to use their voices to make meaningful change in the world,” said Jennifer Appleby, President & Chief Creative Officer of Wray Ward. “Working together with We Rock Charlotte on this inspiring project fed two of our greatest passions: using our talents for good and building a more vibrant and inclusive creative community. The evolved identity we created together truly represents the welcoming and inclusive spirit of We Rock Charlotte and marks the beginning of a new chapter of growth for the organization.”
We Rock Charlotte leaders say on Monday the organization will launch its 30-day fundraising campaign to help build film, art and camp programming for the year.
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“This really is the beginning of a whole new chapter,” says Finley. “We are re-emerging as a different organization than we were prior to the pandemic. The world changed, our community has changed, and so have we.”