BY CHEVAZ CLARKE, CBS News
Grammy Award-winning artist Pharrell Williams delivered a surprise announcement during his commencement speech to graduating students in Harlem.
Williams not only gave an inspirational speech, he promised each of the 114 graduating students of Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academies I and II an internship next summer.
“So, let me be clear: Every member of the 2019 graduating class is guaranteed an internship waiting for them next summer,” he announced. The star received a standing ovation from the graduates, all of whom are college-bound.
“The world is watching Harlem, but this renaissance will be different. And believe it or not, with respect, it’s gonna actually be better,” he continued. “The reason why is because the new Harlem Renaissance has education at its core.”
The Harlem Children’s Zone says that its goal is “doing whatever it takes to help our 13,500 kids get to and through college and end the cycle of generational poverty in Central Harlem.” Admission at the K-12 charter schools is determined by a lottery.
“Pharrell inspired our graduates to enlighten and motivate others but to also be self-aware and innovative,” reads a post on the school’s website.
Anne Williams-Isom, the CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, thanked Pharrell Williams for “urging them to be leaders for justice and change in the world.”
This isn’t the first time the musician and philanthropist has used his star power to help a new generation of achievers. Earlier this year, Williams partnered with Verizon to launch a technology-focused curriculum in under-resourced middle schools in the country.
His generous gesture follows in the footsteps of billionaire Robert F. Smith, who gave Morehouse College 2019 graduates a life-changing surprise in his commencement address in May by vowing to pay off their student debt.