Project KnuckleHead is a national 501(c)3 non-profit organization operating community-based programs. Our mission is to empower and inspire vulnerable youth to reach their potential through education, music, art, and mentoring programs. Our programs address the critical social, emotional, and behavioral needs of youth. We aim to assist in the dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline by investing in the redirection of youth, and equipping them with pro-social skills for self-expression. We focus on serving youth in the (in)justice system, youth with mental health needs, and youth experiencing homelessness, and schools in low-income communities.
Founder and Director
Dr. Amir Whitaker
Amir is an educator, author, civil rights lawyer, and musician. He is the founder and director of Project KnuckleHead, a nonprofit organization empowering youth through music, art, and educational programs since 2013.
Often referred to as “Dr. KnuckleHead,” Amir was introduced to the criminal justice system as a child when he visited both his mother and father in prison. At age 15, Amir himself was arrested and entered the juvenile justice system. Problems at school eventually led to him being expelled. Despite these hardships, Amir went on to complete five college degrees.
As a lawyer referred to as a “civil rights and education stalwart” by the Daytona Times, Amir has negotiated settlements and policy changes that have improved the lives of thousands of youth across the country. Amir is currently a staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California and researcher with the UCLA Civil Rights Project. At the Southern Poverty Law Center, Amir worked on a class action lawsuit on behalf of incarcerated youth receiving inadequate education, mental health, and rehabilitation services. Within the Juvenile Division of the Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office, Amir represented incarcerated youth and developed training materials. He has taught varying grade levels and in different educational settings for over a decade, and has held teaching certifications in Florida, California, and New Jersey. He has delivered keynote speeches to thousands, and written for leading publications across the country, including TIME Magazine. Amir's recently released autobiography has been featured on ABC News and in The New Yorker. Amir is the current board chair for the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network in Los Angeles, a collaborative of 12 organizations providing arts programming to incarcerated youth throughout the county. He received his doctorate in Educational Psychology from the University of Southern California, juris doctorate from the University of Miami, and his bachelors from Rutgers University. His resume/CV can be downloaded here.
Director of Communications & Outreach
After-school Program Coordinator (Los Angeles)
SCHOOLS AND PROGRAMS SERVED
Ak-Chin Indian Community
Linda Marquez High School HPIAM
Ánimo Jackie Robinson High School
Crenshaw High School
William & Carol Ouchi High School
USC East College Prep
Hubbard Middle School
The New Yorker
South Florida Times
University of Southern California
University of Miami
Ak-Chin Indian Community
AMI South Juvenile Justice Program
PACE Center for Girls
COPE Center (Dorothy M Wallace)
Miami Edison Senior High
Carol City Middle School
Booker T Senior High
Miami Central High
AMI North Juvenile Justice Program
One Grove Foundation