Nas Invests In Higher Education

Nas performs at the 2014 Coachella Music and Arts Festival on Saturday, April 19, 2014, in Indio, California

Zach Cordner/Invision/AP

Rapper partners with educational firm Koru to provide scholarships, real-world coaching for college grads.

Rapper and entrepreneur Nas adds another business venture to his portfolio. He is partnering with educational company Koru to assist top graduates in making successful college-to-career transitions with high-growth firms. The Nas Scholarship Fund will provide financial aid to selected students, with the legendary rapper also doubling as a real-world coach. Additionally, Nas and his investment company Queensbridge Venture Partners have made a significant investment in Koru.
 
“I know how hard it can be to carve out your path and purpose in life,” says Nas in a statement announcing the partnership. “The young people going through Koru are gritty, book smart and street smart. The program gives them an opportunity to put those smarts to work. I can’t wait to work directly with them and share what I’ve learned through my own life experiences.”
 
The Nas affiliation is the latest step in the expansion of Koru’s employer-embedded, month-long training programs. Launched last October by co-founder/COO Kristen Hamilton and co-founder/chief learning officer Josh Jarrett, Seattle-based Koru is working in tandem with such high-growth companies as zulily, Payscale and REI. Among Koru’s 13 founding college partners in the enterprise are Bates, Pomona, Brown, USC and Georgetown. The goal is to rectify a sobering fact. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 50 percent of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed.

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“We’re thinking about education in a different way,” Hamilton tells Billboard.biz, “because it’s a tough go after college. Nas was especially interested in how we’re focusing on the real world; on learning outside the classroom while partnering book smarts with street smarts.”
 
The first Nas scholarship recipients will participate in the June program. That session as well as the July session will take place in Seattle. Come September, Koru will begin offering programs in Seattle and San Francisco.
 
Earlier this month, Nas and business partner Peter Bittenbender announced the launch of independent label Mass Appeal Records. The Sony RED-distributed label’s first signings include Detroit rapper Boldy James with plans to also sign singer/songwriters, EDM artists and DJ/producers. Mass Appeal will bow in late summer with an annual compilation album featuring Future, A$AP Mob and others. Also on the docket: a posthumous Pimp C album, produced by Juicy J, Mike Will Made It and DJ Mustard, and Lost Tapes 2, a collection of unreleased Nas music.
 
Last spring, Nas and Bittenbender raised $1.2 million to relaunch their new label’s sister company, street art and culture publication Mass Appeal magazine.

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