Music visionary Pharrell Williams has been a fierce advocate for equality in the realm of education and the Virginia native’s latest philanthropic effort is centered on ensuring that exceptional schooling is accessible for youth in underserved communities. According to NBC 12, Williams is launching a private school for low-income students in the city of Norfolk.
The school—dubbed Yellowhab—is being created through his nonprofit Yellow. The organization strives to utilize education as an avenue to eradicate generational poverty. Yellowhab will cultivate culturally competent learning environments that have an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. The school has enlisted the help of NASA scientists and education futurists to bring this vision to fruition. Yellowhab will provide tuition-free education for the first 40 to 50 students who enroll. It’s slated to open this fall.
Williams says Yellowhab was created to address socioeconomic inequities within the school system. “If the system is fixed and unfair, then it needs to be broken,” he said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “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.” After assessing the impact of the Norfolk location, Yellow hopes to expand and open more learning facilities in the future.
Efforts like the one being led by Williams and his nonprofit are needed. According to 13News Now, at Virginia schools where at least 70 percent of students are considered economically underprivileged, there are high percentages of educators who are working outside of their field to fill the gaps. In Norfolk schools where a majority of the students come from impoverished households, teachers are more likely to be inexperienced.
News about Yellowhab comes months after Williams unveiled the ‘Your Voice is Power’ project; an initiative for youth that merges the arts, computer science and entrepreneurship.