Alika Hope is the co-founder and president of The Ray of Hope Project, which works with organizations across the U.S. to address issues of social justice through music and dialogue. She recently won a Gold Global Music Award for the album, Hope for a Motherless Child, and has received awards from numerous other agencies. The motto of The Ray of Hope Project is “Feel the Music, Change the World”. The goal is that the release of her music video will shed light on isolation and depression and encourage people to be more loving and supportive online, changing the world one Ray of Hope video at a time. Alika wants to make clear that though online relationships can be extremely supportive and even life saving for some, it is not a substitute for the help of a professional.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I have a variety of skills in different areas and wanted to find a way to merge my skill sets together while simultaneously creating positive change in the world.
Tell us about your business.
The Ray of Hope Project was founded in 2013. ROH includes 12 musicians and other performers, with the original goal of using African-American spirituals and the readings of 19th century abolitionists to teach history and encourage dialogue around race in America. ROH now also incorporates the music and lyrics of 20th/21st century songs as a way of creating conversations around current issues of global social justice.
Engagements with schools, libraries, and museums throughout the United States have allowed ROH to collaborate with over 12,000 people. Hope for a Motherless Child, our first album, was released in 2016, and won a Gold Mom’s Choice Award, a Creative Child Magazine award, and a Global Music Award. In 2017 ROH released the single Oh, Freedom! to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. Oh, Freedom! was awarded a silver Global Music Award.
- Gold Global Music Award
- Silver Global Music Award
- Gold Mom’s Choice Award
- Creative Child Magazine Award
Where is your business based?
Hartford, CT and New York City, NY.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I reached out to Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum, and suggested that they incorporate more African-American history in their programming. Someone there responded and agreed, and asked me and my guitarist to come in and do a concert. I didn’t even have a program planned, but suddenly had my first client! So I spent hours researching Old Sturbridge Village, New England history, African-American history in Massachusetts, and put a program together.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Social media has had a huge role in raising awareness of my business. Instagram in particular has allowed people to see video and photos of our performances, and we have booked work from Instagram several times. Word of mouth has also been helpful – schools, museums, and libraries have recommended us to others in their professional circles.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Maintaining the intimacy and quality of our programming as we’ve grown.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I personally hire all my musicians and actors, and am present at every performance or workshop. I’ve also learned to develop strong relationships with my performers, so that the lines of communication stay open.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
My ancestors inspire me. Knowing that they didn’t have the rights that I enjoy, the right to own a business, speak honestly about their lives, and have absolute freedom motivates me to keep going when times get rough.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I don’t worry about competitors, because my business is uniquely based on my skills and talents.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Never let anyone dim your light.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Take chances. If you have a vision, find a way to put it into action.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
- Social media, because it’s introduced The Ray of Hope Project to people around the world.
- Digital music platforms are another favorite business tool of mine – it’s so easy now to send someone to Spotify or iTunes when they ask to hear my music.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
“The Living Clearly Method” by Hilaria Baldwin.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I’m learning about grant writing, because I’m trying to secure more funding to bring our programming to more schools and museums across the U.S. In particular. I’ve been working on securing funding to develop programs that encourage interracial dialogue.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
My major goal over the next few months is to raise awareness of the power of kindness and dialogue as social justice tools. I’m striving to achieve them through the release of the music video for “IRL”, a song I wrote about using social media to spread kindness and compassion.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.