Within schools run by LeBron James, Dr. Dre, Pitbull and more were founded
Kanye West’s recent controversial behavior and comments haven’t just impacted his business deals. It also put the students at Donda, the school he founded, in a strange limbo when they were temporarily told that the academy would close for the remainder of the school year in light of West’s suffering. (Hours later, that move was denied.) But he’s not the only celebrity whose reputation could endanger hundreds of children. Here’s a look at some other schools powered by star power.
Simi Valley, California
star power: Founder Kanye “Ye” West
main goal: Named for the rapper’s late mother, who was an English professor at Chicago State University, Donda, which opened in 2022, is not accredited and reportedly offers classes in parkour, film, and Christianity, as well as a core curriculum. Ye has called it a “gospel school” that puts faith at the center — and choir students take part in West’s Sunday service performances. The rapper is said to have recruited elite basketball stars from around the country – including Robert Dillingham and AJ Johnson – to join the school’s team, the Donda Doves, to be coached by former NBA champion and Miami Heat superstar Dorell Wright. Team uniforms were reportedly designed by Balenciaga, while everyday uniforms came from West’s Gap line – although both brands have now severed ties with West.
student body: Donda was to be such a celebrity magnet that parents reportedly had to sign NDAs before they could even pay $15,000 a year for their kids to attend — though that didn’t stop singer Keyshia Cole from posting a photo of her son in the fancy uniform .
Transcript: Last month, after West went on an anti-Semitic social media rant that cost him deals with Gap, Adidas, Balenciaga, Def Jam, Chase and CAA, among others, parents were informed the academy would be closing for the rest of the school year…only to learn that the plan was scrapped and classes would resume the next day. The Post reported on educators fleeing for the exits while Cole tweeted about it to take her son out of class. The Doves were not invited to Scholastic Play-by-Play Classics, one of the top high school tournaments in the country.
art in motion
Star Power: Founded by Common
main goal: The rapper returned to Chicago’s South Side, where he grew up, in 2019 to launch this arts-focused Charter Academy — an extension of the Common Ground Foundation he founded more than a decade ago, which focuses on support by students from underserved communities. The tuition-free school reportedly includes a wellness center, relaxation room and music room — with graffiti honoring Mobb Deep, A Tribe Called Quest, Miles Davis and Chaka Khan.
student body: Only neighborhood kids.
RegardingPort Map: Common’s partner in the project is the local New Life Covenant Church; The operation’s religious overtones clash with Illinois law that prohibits churches from operating taxpayer-funded schools. The rapper’s mother, Mahalia Hines, sat on the city’s board of education until 2019, though she withdrew from voting on whether to open Art in Motion.
Royal School of Film & Television Production
Los Angeles, California
Star Power: George Clooney, Don Cheadle, Mindy Kaling, Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington sit on the advisory board along with a number of Hollywood executives.
Main goal: This brand new magnet school aims to help diversify Hollywood by recruiting kids for careers in television and film. about a curriculum heavily influenced by Starwattage—think guest lectures on the chemistry of makeup or the physics of set design from friends of Clooney and Co, all of whom sit on the school’s board of directors. The focus of the class is “superhero backstories,” which the Hollywood Reporter describes as “a task that requires you to present original designs for a superhero’s costume, both at work and at home, taking into account character, time period, history, and… Concept”.
student body: No Bel Air Nepo babies were among the approximately 150 students recruited from underserved communities nearby.
Transcript: This first year of school is only open to ninth and tenth graders and will be expanded to juniors and seniors over the next two years. According to the Hollywood Reporter, $4 million in funding came from heavyweights including Amazon Studios, Disney, Fox Corp., NBCUniversal/Telemundo Enterprises, Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery. The History Channel/A&E Networks, Netflix and Sony Pictures Entertainment are also on board.
SLAM Academy (Sports Leadership and Management).
11 schools in Florida plus franchises in Hendersonville, Nevada; Tempe, Arizona; and Atlanta, Georgia
Star Power: Founded by Pitbull
Main goal: Pitbull opened the first campus in 2012 in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, where he grew up, as a tribute to the teacher who told him to follow his dream of freestyling. A decade later, there is a whole network of tuition-free schools across the country. The syllabus has a STEM focus with “sports-oriented lessons”.
student body: Around 5,000 students are on courses across the network – and graduates are being prepared for careers in everything from sports medicine to marketing.
Transcript: According to the Broward Palm Beach New Times, “The nature of Pitbull’s relationship with the school is nebulous.” The Washington Post, meanwhile, described the rapper’s role as “creating different ways to engage people.”
USC Iovine and Young Academy
Leimert Park, California
Star Power: co-founder dr Dre (born Andre Young) and superstar producer Jimmy Iovine.
main goal: While not exclusively focused on music, this brand new high school has a mission to prepare students to become entrepreneurs like their famous founders – who not only run but founded record labels Death Row (Dre) and Interscope (Iovine). BeatsElectronics. It’s not her first pedagogical effort either; The two have already spent $70 million on a student-focused peer at USC, and the staff there helped with the high school curriculum workshop.
student body: Mostly ninth graders from all over town getting bussed by the LA school system. The majority is black.
Transcript: After launching in fall 2022, Dre is already planning at least 10 more schools across the country.
I promise school
star Energy: Founded in 2018 by LeBron James.
Main goal: Due to an unstable personal life when his mother moved around looking for a job, James was famous 83 days absent in fourth grade. I Promise, a public STEM school and not a charter, works to create a holistic family environment that includes both parents and students. Clothing and groceries are available for families to take with them as needed, and GED classes are offered. According to the school’s website, there are regular events that parents must attend. The school, located in James’ old neighborhood, is decked out in the NBA legend’s sneakers.
student body: Students – selected by lottery – are greeted in the morning to the sound of Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family”.
RID: Any graduate with a 3.0 GPA is eligible for free tuition at the University of Akron.
https://nypost.com/2022/11/22/inside-schools-started-by-lebron-james-dr-dre-pitbull-more/ Within schools run by LeBron James, Dr. Dre, Pitbull and more were founded