Pharrell Is Opening a Private School for Low-Income Students in Virginia
The first of which is near his hometown of Norfolk.
After just announcing his partnership with Chanel to support Black and Latinx entrepreneurs, Pharrell Williams is further exploring his philanthropy through the education arm of his non-profit organization, Yellow, with the goal of launching a handful of private schools in Virginia – exclusively for low-income students.
The first school, named Yellowhab, is due to open in the Ghent neighborhood, near Pharrell’s Virginia Beach hometown of Norfolk. It will be available for students from grades three to five and will offer free tuition for the first year, with fees paid through donations and charitable giving. There are also plans for the foundation to open a middle school next year, alongside other schools in the area. As for academics, the school is set to prioritize STEM learning, or science, technology, engineering, art and math, however, students will be grouped by skill level instead of grade level, offering a unique twist on traditional education.
Speaking to The Virginia Pilot, Pharrell said, “If the system is fixed and unfair, then it needs to be broken. 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.”
Pharrell also went onto explain that he chose Norfolk specifically due to its issue of housing segregation as well as the city’s plans to redevelop three public housing locations. Yellow’s director of engagement Stephanie Walters explained to The Pilot, “Residents [are] being displaced from their homes with potentially limited housing options available which limits options for the children. We have a great relationship with the City of Norfolk and want to be a part of the solution in supporting the community with resources and support.”
The first Yellowhab school will open on September 7 this year. Enrollment is available now until July 7, online at Yellow, with the expectation that students will be selected based on a lottery system.