In the spirit of paying it forward, Pharrell pulled a Robert F. Smith (the billionaire who paid off Morehouse's 2019 graduates' school loans) and gifted the entire graduating class of Harlem Children's Zone Promise Academy a guaranteed internship.
"So let me be clear, every member of the 2019 graduating class, is guaranteed an internship waiting for them, you, next summer," Pharrell, who was the school's keynote speaker, told the graduating class while onstage at their graduation ceremony over the weekend. "It’s one thing to be 'woke,' another to be awake, leaned in, and engaged."A
All 114 graduating students of the two charter high schools, "all of whom have received offers to attend colleges and universities," Buzzfeed News reports, are guaranteed an internship in Pharrell's network after their first year of college.
"In order for us to get our community, these children, and these families out of poverty, we want to make sure that they are connected to a livable wage," Anne Williams-Isom, the CEO of Harlem Children's Zone told Buzzfeed. "And we know that for so many of our young people, the way that they’re going to be able to do that is with that college degree in their hands, but also with some experience from very good internships that they will be able to do while they’re in college." She added, another goal of the program is to "end generational poverty."
Jada Warmington, the class valedictorian of Promise Academy 1, told the outlet she was a "bit shocked" when Pharrell announced the news. "When he guaranteed my entire class with an internship, I knew that this a stepping-stone into something great," she shared. "I just knew that next summer was gonna be the summer for me, because I was a little bit worried about going into college and not knowing what’s next, like how am I gonna prepare for internships for the fall and summer, especially the really competitive ones."