NFL star quarterback Russell Wilson and Grammy-winning singer Ciara are investing their wealth back into their home base in Seattle to help underserved Black and brown students.
The couple has shared that they’re the latest celebrity philanthropists to back a local charter school through their Why Not You Foundation — a nonprofit dedicated to education, children’s health, fighting poverty, and empowering today’s youth.
According to the Associated Press, both are contributing approximately $1.75 million to rebrand an existing charter program known as Cascade Midway Academy and open Why Not You Academy, a first-of-its-kind high school set to open its doors in Fall 2021.
Alongside founders @DangeRussWilson and @ciara, we are proud to announce the 1st @wnyacademy in WA State! Opening Fall 2021, this tuition-free charter public high school will increase access to high-quality education for systemically underserved students: https://t.co/6Pl1IjynmJ pic.twitter.com/O38ZTfhRru
— Why Not You Foundation (@WhyNotYouFdn) October 28, 2020
The new high school program was originally scheduled to debut this year, but was delayed by founders — Garth Reeves and Scott Canfield — as a result of the pandemic.
To help push the opening along, they reached out to the Wilsons’ foundation and landed a partnership from the generous couple.
Though they won’t be involved in day-to-day operations, both Wilson and Ciara’s hefty contribution will be honored with the school’s rebrand and name change.
During an interview with the Associated Press, Russell and Ciara revealed that they jumped at the opportunity to help the charter school launch the new program, as it “focuses on academics, personalized student plans and internships and mentorships for underserved Black and brown students.”
“I’m really confident…about the team that we have here and how we’re building things out,” Ciara said. “We’re passionate about everything. We’re all in on this.”
Even though the Wilsons have been long supporters of kids’ education, the celebrity couple has made it clear that their charter school financing is not to make a political statement.
“We’ve been so committed over the past four years to education,” Russell told the AP. “This isn’t anything political for us.”
Instead he pointed out his and his wife’s education philanthropy work through their foundation that spans across the globe.
Among their work, Russell and Ciara have also supported other youth-focused programs like the Seattle-based Rainier Scholars program — which helps low-income students of color prepare for college — and the Rwanda Girls Initiative — which runs a science and tech-based boarding school for girls in Africa.
According to the couple, this will be the first of many Why Not You Academy sites across the country.
Aside from difficulties many schools have faced while opening during the pandemic, the charter school system in Washington state has been bogged down with legal, financial and enrollment uncertainties over the last few years.
While the total number of schools and students has risen each year, nearly a third of charter programs for students have reportedly been shut down since the state’s first charter school opened back in 2014.
In spite of these odds, the Why Not You Academy founders are determined to see this project through to help kids all over.
“We can’t speak for other schools but great progress does come with setbacks,” Canfield said, according to the AP. “Our focus is on what we can do and what we can control.”
For more information about Why Not You Academy, visit its website.