Created by Pharrell, YELLOWHAB is a “microschool” located in the Grammy-award-winning musician’s hometown of Norfolk, Virginia. The school, which features smaller classrooms and more hands-on workshops, aims to provide students with an immersive learning experience based on skill rather than age. The partnership with Cisco will provide the school with unique technologies that can help students learn the skills needed to succeed at jobs in STEM or culture and in turn give back to their community.
“This partnership between YELLOW and Cisco will take the education of our students at YELLOWHAB to the next level,” Pharrell said in a statement. “I look forward to our youth experiencing education through Cisco’s state of the art technology which will continuously expand their lens of possibility through which they see themselves, their community, and their futures.”
“Cisco’s purpose is to power an inclusive future for all, which includes empowering future generations and making a positive impact on communities around the world,” Cisco Chair and CEO Chuck Robbins said in a statement. “It’s critical that we work together with local partners to ensure that today’s youth learn and realize their potential in a digital age. Everyone needs access to experiential learning, and we’re proud to work with Pharrell and YELLOW to reach historically marginalized communities and close the digital divide.”
Pharrell has spoken extensively about his passion for getting kids involved in the tech space. In an interview with Rolling Stone, the Something in the Water founder spoke extensively about the layout of his YELLOWHAB microschool, which is tuition-free and caters to third graders all the way up to sixth graders.
“Let’s get rid of the old way of looking at children,” Williams said. “Our kids are not in education only to get off in the summer because we need them to go work in the factories. That’s not the world that we live in. The paradigm needs to shift. The public schools don’t have all the answers and the private schools don’t either.”
The Neptunes co-founder added that his non-profit aims to level the playing field for minority communities.
“We have the opportunity to even those odds with this system,” he said. “There might be a Sheryl Sandberg or a female astronaut in the classroom. Who knows?...Man, if I was a fourth grader and someone from Cisco came to my school to talk to me about it, I might not be a musician. I might have been a mathematician.”