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Pharrell Williams Opens School for Low-Income Families in Home State

Grammy Award-winning artist and producer Pharrell Williams announced plans to open a private school for low-income families in Norfolk, VA, starting with grades 3-5.

The school will be named Yellowhab, after Williams’ nonprofit Yellow, which the school will be created under, making the tuition for the first year free.

“If the system is fixed and unfair, then it needs to be broken,” Williams said in a news release. “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.”

For years, Yellow offered summer programs and other educational opportunities throughout Hampton Roads. Williams chose Norfolk as the site for the first school because of its history o segregated housing and redevelopment plans.

With enrollment starting at 40-50 students, the school will focus heavily on STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art and math — like the summer programs have.

“We are very clear here that we’re not taking away from the city or the district. We want to be additive and not put any kind of onerous, intrusive impact on those institutions,” said Mike McGalliard, executive director of Yellow. “It’s very important that we not disrupt that revenue stream.”

According to McGalliard, Yellohab students will be able to live anywhere in Norfolk and still attend.

Residents (are) being displaced from their homes with potentially limited housing options available which limits options for the children,” Stephanie Walters, Yellow’s director of engagement, wrote in an email. “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.”

1 Comment

Sergio Gonzales
Sergio Gonzales
Nov 17, 2023

Pharrell Williams's dedication to education is inspiring. Opening a school for low-income families in his home state reflects his commitment to positive change. Similarly, during my academic journey, I found invaluable support from when I needed assistance with written work. It's heartening to see individuals like Pharrell contributing to education, and services like aiding students in their academic pursuits.

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