Pharrell Williams is investing in the futures of youth from underserved communities. According to Because of Them We Can, the music producer surprised the 2019 graduating class at Promise Academy by vowing to give them all internship opportunities after they complete their first year of college.
Williams served as the commencement speaker for the Harlem-based school. During his speech, he gave the graduating class—which consisted of 114 seniors—encouraging words about how to navigate the next chapter of their journeys. Graduates and their loved ones were in for a surprise when he shared that he would provide the students with internship opportunities as a way to establish a stepping stone for their success. After Williams shared the news the sea of graduates—who proudly donned blue cap and gowns—erupted into cheers and clapping.
“The world is watching Harlem, but this renaissance will be different,” said Williams during his speech. “Believe it or not, with respect, it’s going to actually be better and the reason why is because the new Harlem Renaissance has education at its core.”
Williams has lended his voice to several social issues and the philanthropist has been dedicated to ensuring that students—specifically those from underserved communities and underrepresented groups—have access to enriching opportunities. In April, he teamed up with Verizon to introduce a tech-focused music curriculum to schools throughout the country. Through the program, students will have the opportunity to explore music through robotics, virtual reality, and other types of technology. In 2018 he hosted the Yellow Ball gala in partnership with American Express Platinum to benefit Young Audiences Arts for Learning; an organization that implements arts education curriculums in different community centers and schools across the country.