Pharrell Williams surprised the 2019 graduating students at Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy with a guaranteed internship after their first year of college.
He made the announcement during his commencement speech at the graduation last week.
The Academy in Harlem, New York, is a charter school that offers free high-quality education kindergarten through 12th grade for its 2,000 students, all of whom gained admission to the school through lottery or waiting lists. The school focuses on establishing healthy lifelong habits for young people, with freshly made breakfasts and lunches everyday, access to medical services and longer days and school years to allow students to really learn their subjects.
Williams has been working with the school to create an internship program to give students access to connections in fields they would not get otherwise. The charter school’s goal is to make sure all students are equipped to graduate from college, creating opportunities for them to end generational poverty in the area. The 13-time Grammy-winning singer-producer said to the students: “The world is watching Harlem, but this Renaissance will be different. And believe it or not, with respect, it’s gonna actually be better. And the reason why is because the new Harlem Renaissance has education at its core.”
Great! – RP @uptowngrandcentral – “So let me be clear: Every member of the 2019 graduating class is guaranteed an internship waiting for them next summer,” commencement speaker @Pharrell Williams told the graduates of Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy @harlemchildrenszone this past Wednesday. … All 114 students have received acceptance letters to colleges and universities across the country. “It’s not every day folks see a school of black and brown children who have closed the achievement gap,” said HCZ CEO Anne Williams-Isom @msannehcz. … #Harlem #EastHarlem #ElBarrio #125thStreet #HarlemChildrensZone #Pharrell #Graduation #Happy
Williams has worked with various organizations to create more opportunities for students in the past. He partnered with the Verizon Foundation earlier this year to increase technology access, specifically based in a music curriculum, in underserved schools. Williams has also spoken at the United Nations on International Happiness Day, discussing the subject — also the focus of his song “Happy” — and founded the From One Hand to AnOTHER foundation in 2008. The foundation sponsors free educational summer camps for at-risk and low-income middle schools and high schools that focus on science, technology, engineering, arts, math and motivation (S.T.E.A.M.M).
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.