Pharrell Williams To Open New Network Of Private Schools For Low-Income Families In Virginia!, By Shanelle Genai, Posted June 22nd 2021

The entertainer and entrepreneur hopes to improve education with an experimental model.

Singer, songwriter, skin aficionado and powerhouse music producer Pharrell Williams is further extending his philanthropic reach to the wonderful world of education.

Per The Virginian Pilot, the “Happy” artist will open a new network of private schools for low-income families in the Norfolk area in tandem with his newly launched educational program Yellowhab—”an independent micro-school providing customized learning pathways serving the unique needs + aptitudes of children.” Opening just in time for the Fall 2021 school year, the tuition-free private school will enroll anywhere between 40-50 students between third and fifth grade, but its educators don’t plan on abiding by regular grade school divisions. Instead, Yellowhab will group students together based on skill level.

“The challenge is that if you’re progressing too slow relative to some benchmark, then you’re tagged with that title ‘remedial’ or something like it,” Yellowhab Executive Director Mike McGalliard explained. “And that’s detrimental to your evolving self concept, to your sense of what you can achieve. It’s oppressive, and it’s a weight kids carry.”

More from The Virginian Pilot:

Students who attend Yellowhab can live anywhere in the city. McGalliard said the nonprofit plans to announce the school’s location later.

The new school’s curriculum will have a heavy emphasis on STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art and math — like the summer programs have. Collaboration and hands-on learning will be emphasized.

Speaking on the importance of opening this school Williams 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.”

In a recent interview for Town & Country Magazine, Williams—a proud Virginia native himself—also divulged plans to expand the school to major cities across the country within the next five years. Those locations are said to hopefully provide pre-K through workforce education in Virginia’s Hampton Roads region. Additionally, Yellowhab will also open a middle school sometime in 2022.

Parents have until July 1 to apply for the school; students can reside anywhere in the city and will be selected via lottery process at a later date.