"If the system is fixed & unfair, then it needs to be broken," said the music mogul of his latest education venture.
Plenty of entertainers are active in the communities that helped shape and mold them into the successful artists they are today, and they often give back to marginalized and disenfranchised areas. Many host food drives, give away new clothing, sponsor food delivery services for the elderly, host camps for children, or even pay tuition or bills for students and families in need. Pharrell Williams has been intimately involved in various community service efforts in his home state of Virginia, and it's reported that his nonprofit organization Yellow has plans to launch several private schools for low-income families.
The Virginia Pilot reports that the first school will open in Norfolk, specifically in the historic neighborhood of Ghent. “If the system is fixed and unfair, then it needs to be broken,” Williams said in a press release.
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“We don’t want lockstep learning where so many kids fall behind; we want bespoke learning designed for each child, where the things that make a child different are the same things that will make a child rise up and take flight," he continued. The schools will reportedly be named Yellowhab: "Yellow" after Pharrell's non-profit and "hab" in tribute to The Martian film.
Tuition will reportedly "be covered by philanthropic support" and there aren't any plans to make them public school in the future. The institutions will accept 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.
Applicants will be chosen by lottery and the requirements are as follows:
- Child must be a resident of Norfolk, VA (with proof of residency)
- Child is a rising 3rd, 4th, or 5th grader
- Child qualifies for the Federal Free and Reduced-price Lunch program, or meets family income requirements (proof required)
“Residents (are) being displaced from their homes with potentially limited housing options available which limits options for the children,” Stephanie Walters, Yellow’s director of engagement, told The Virginia Pilot. “We have a great relationship with the City of Norfolk and want to be a part of the solution in supporting the community with resources and support.”