Rapper Meek Mill is tapping into the power of education to uplift youth from his hometown. According to Billboard, the Philly native—whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams—has launched a scholarship fund to provide financial support for underserved children.
The $2 million fund—which is a collaborative effort led by Williams and businessman Michael Rubin—will assist over 1,000 students who live in low-income households. The scholarship aims to eliminate socio-economic barriers that stand in the way of accessibility to education by covering tuition costs for students attending private schools. Williams and Rubin are also aiming to bridge the digital divide by equipping children with the tech tools needed for at-home learning amid the pandemic.
Initiatives like the one being led by the two men are needed. According to Pew Trusts, nearly 400,000 people in the city live below the poverty line. Further research revealed that nearly 70 percent of low-income Philadelphians send their children to underfunded district-led schools and a mere 2 percent of underprivileged children attended a public elementary or middle school with a high achievement rating. The digital divide is a longstanding issue that has been exacerbated by the pandemic and youth from Philadelphia have been significantly impacted by the disparities. A 2019 report released by the School District of Philadelphia revealed only 45 percent of students in grades three through five had access to a computer at home.
The scholarship fund is one of many youth empowerment-focused efforts that Williams has led. Last year, during the holiday season he joined forces with fellow leaders from the REFORM Alliance organization to give back to children whose lives have been impacted by incarceration. He also returned to his former elementary school to donate backpacks and school supplies. “Growing up in Philly, I’ve watched families struggle to make ends meet and buy basic school supplies for the kids,” he said in a statement. “Those memories stay with me and that’s why I’m committed to giving back to families in my hometown.”