Grammy award-winning super-producer Pharrell Williams is always finding new ways to give back to his community, and now his latest project is focusing on youth in his home state.
According to The Virginian-Pilot, Williams recently called out the unjust public school system in Virginia and revealed his own master plan to open a group of small private schools for students from low-income families.
Pharrell strongly believes the state’s public school system needs to be refined in a way that doesn’t allow it to turn its back on underprivileged students. Now he’s using his nonprofit organization to pay it forward and get all students the education they deserve.
“If the system is fixed and unfair, then it needs to be broken,” he said in a news release. “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.”
The new group of schools — partly named Yellowhab after Williams’ nonprofit — will open its first institution in Norfolk, VA this fall and operate tuition-free for at least a year to help out parents who can’t afford to enroll their children in private schools, The Virginian-Pilot reports.
Williams and his nonprofit reportedly chose this particular location because of its “deeply entrenched housing segregation” and the city’s plans to redevelop three public housing communities through a billion-dollar redevelopment initiative, the outlet shares.
The first school will focus on 40 to 50 students in grades three through five with a goal to expand on the “equity-focused nonprofit’s decade of experience running summer programs for students.”
The school’s curriculum will heavily focus on STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art and math — just like the non-profit’s summer programs have in the past, as well as hands-on and collaborative learning. Instead of grade-level cohorts, all students will be grouped together based on their skill levels.
According to Executive Director Mike McGalliard, he told The Virginian-Pilot that Williams’ nonprofit plans to announce the school’s exact location later this year, in addition to future expansion plans for other schools.
Yellowhab is currently accepting applications for students now until July 1 and students will then be chosen through a lottery system. The new school is set to open Sept. 7.
For more information on how to apply to Yellowhab, click here.