Mission & Goals

Next Level is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Meridian International Center. Its mission is to use hip-hop music and dance to foster cross-cultural creative exchange in diverse communities. We work to promote understanding and conflict resolution in these audiences, and support the professional development of artists in those communities.

Next Level brings people together and encourages greater understanding through the universality of music as a form of creative self-expression. It also builds on the historic legacy of the Department of State’s Jazz Ambassadors, who first traveled the world in the 1950s to connect with people through music.

Next Level 2014 – 2015 coordinated a series of three-week-long exchange programs in Bangladesh, Bosnia & Herzegovina/ Montenegro, India, Senegal, Serbia and Zimbabwe, and concluded with the Global Next Level residency, which brought artists from each of those countries to the U.S.

Next Level 2015 – 2016 ran similar exchange programs in El Salvador, Honduras, Tanzania, Thailand and Uganda.

Next Level 2016 – 2017 ran programs in Algeria/Tunisia, Brazil, Colombia, Croatia, and Indonesia.

Next Level 2017 – 2018 ran programs in Azerbaijan, Myanmar, Egypt, Morocco, and Cambodia.

Next Level 2018 – 2019 is currently running programs in Guatemala, Jerusalem, Nigeria, The Philippines, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and The Dominican Republic.

During the exchanges, teams of MCs, DJs, beat makers, and hip-hop dancers conduct public concerts, interactive performances with local musicians, lecture demonstrations, workshops, and jam sessions with diverse audiences.

Next Level activities focus on promoting conflict resolution and interacting with younger and underserved audiences in areas with little or no access to American hip-hop musicians. Next Level programs also focus on musical entrepreneurship, conducting workshops and discussions on global music business best practices today.

Next Level artist-educators are selected on the basis of artistic quality and commitment to education and cultural engagement through an open competition.


us_department_of_state-logoThe Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs promotes international mutual understanding through a wide range of academic, cultural, private-sector, professional, and sports exchange  programs. These international exchanges engage youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and emerging leaders in many fields in the United States and in more than 160 countries. Alumni of ECA exchanges comprise over one million people around the world, including more than 50 Nobel Laureates and more than 320 current or former heads of state and government.


unc-logoThe mission of the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is to foster creative endeavor and critical inquiry in and through music. The UNC Department of Music serves the students of the University by promoting artistic expressiveness, cultural and historical understanding, and intellectual and technical mastery; it serves North Carolina and the world through scholarship, performance, pedagogy, and composition. Through service to these constituencies, the UNC Department of Music seeks to be a leader in musical studies and a model of a productive and engaged department. In sum, the contribution of the Department is to encourage students as well as members of the broader community to lead musical lives, whether as artists, scholars, and audiences.

For over 55 years, Meridian International Center has been preparing U.S. and international leaders to meet global challenges and opportunities through exchange, culture, and training. Culture and the arts yield a unique power for people across borders to share experiences, shape identities, and imagine the future. Cultural diplomacy allows people from all over the world to relate to one another – despite oft-perceived differences – by emphasizing shared values that constitute the fabric of their identity. The Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy (MCCD) harnesses culture – visual art, music, dance, cuisine, and film – to engage audiences around the world through compelling exhibitions, exchanges, forums, public-private partnerships, educational initiatives, and community outreach, resulting in individuals and communities finding common ground, forging more stable relationships, and fostering genuine respect.