Pharrell Gives Every Graduating Senior From A Harlem High School An Unbelievable Opportunity

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 20: Pharrell Williams on stage during the Karl Lagerfeld Homage at Grand Palais on June 20, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Anthony Ghnassia/Getty Images For Karl Lagerfeld)

Pharrell Gives Every Graduating Senior From A Harlem High School An Unbelievable Opportunity

The music legend follows in the footsteps of Morehouse commencement speaker Robert F. Smith.

Published June 29, 2019

Written by Paul Meara

Pharrell Williams is an incredible producer, but he’s also done his fair share of philanthropic work, and his latest charitable endeavor is just as groundbreaking as his music.

While speaking at the commencement of Harlem’s Promise Academy, P gave graduating seniors much more than a great speech and a high school diploma.

After providing the 114 graduates with an inspirational message, Pharrell provided them with an incredible gift. “So let me be clear, every member of the 2019 graduating class, is guaranteed an internship waiting for them, you, next summer,” Pharrell said in a video posted by Harlem’s Children’s Zone. “It’s one thing to be ‘woke,’ another to be awake, leaned in and engaged.”

That’s right: Pharrell just promised 114 students internships. While he didn’t specify where the students would be working, we’re guessing at least a few will be mentored under his wing.

According to a statement on the school’s website, the Promise Academy’s goal is to make sure each student gets into college and graduates.

“When students enter our Promise Academy® K-12 Charter Schools, we make a promise to help each and every one get to and through college,” the statement reads. “Everything we give our students—from world-class instruction and exceptional extracurricular activities to social emotional support and healthy meals—is aimed at fulfilling that promise.”

“The world is watching Harlem, but this renaissance will be different,” said Williams during his speech. “Believe it or not, with respect, it’s going to actually be better and the reason why is because the new Harlem Renaissance has education at its core.”

This latest philanthropic endeavor is just the latest for Pharrell. In April, he teamed up with Verizon to introduce a tech-based music curriculum to schools throughout the country. Through the program, students will have the opportunity to explore music through virtual reality, robotics and other types of technology.

In 2018, Williams hosted the Yellow Ball gala to benefit Young Audiences Arts for Learning, an organization that implements arts education curriculums in different community centers and schools nationwide.

The generous gesture comes a few months after billionaire Robert F. Smith wiped out the student loan debts of the graduating class at Morehouse College, where Smith was the commencement speaker this year. 

Giving young kids — especially young Black kids — a leg up on life is a trend we can certainly get behind.

Photo: Anthony Ghnassia/Getty Images For Karl Lagerfeld


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