Saturday, June 7, marked an incredibly exciting day for EverFi as we teamed up with Grammy award-winning producer and performer Pharrell Williams and his educational non-profit From One Hand to AnOTHER to launch a new community education initiative in his hometown of Virginia Beach, VA.
While Pharrell is widely known for the mega-hit “Happy” that topped the charts and made him a global pop phenomenon, he is also a tireless advocate for education. He has a deep and very genuine commitment to providing underserved youth with the educational tools they need for success. On Saturday, he returned to his alma mater, Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach, for the first time since graduating 22 years ago, to headline an event organized by EverFi announcing a new educational partnership.
Beginning this summer, EverFi will provide digital learning opportunities to students attending the Summer of Innovation Camp coordinated by From One Hand to AnOTHER in Virginia Beach, VA. Designed to spark student interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), the camps will reach over 500 students in third through eighth grades and provide them with Ignition – Digital Literacy & Responsibility™ and Vault – Understanding Money™, two of EverFi’s web-based courses designed for elementary and middle school students.
As part of our multi-year commitment to From One Hand to AnOTHER (FOHTA), EverFi will also be working with Pharrell’s team to expand the partnership and provide additional digital learning experiences to schools across Virginia Beach and beyond as FOHTA’s reach grows nationally.
On Saturday, more than 800 students, administrators and Virginia Beach community members filled the gymnasium of Princess Anne High School and were abuzz as they anticipated the arrival of their most famous alum — using the hashtag #PharrellComesHome in a show of pride.
After a rousing introduction from local celebrity and Princess Anne High School alum Brandon “Shaggy” Stokes and EverFi Co-Founder Ray Martinez, Pharrell entered the gymnasium alongside his mother as the school marching band performed a rendition of “Happy.” He took time to mingle with the crowd and shake hands with current and former teachers, including his band teacher Alan Sharps, who had a formative impact on his teenage years.
Pharrell spoke with the students about the impact that educators had on his development as a student and musician.
“I just want to stress the importance to you guys — that even when you feel like you’re failing, even when you feel like you don’t have it – I felt that way. My grades were not the best, I’m telling you right now. But none of my teachers gave up on me,” he said. “Life is like a mosaic. It’s a bunch of pieces. I’m just one piece. But the rest of the pieces are my teachers who kept pushing me.”
Representatives from the office of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced an official proclamation naming June 7, 2014 as Pharrell Williams Day across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms presented Pharrell with a key to the city. Princess Anne students presented Pharrell with a custom painted skateboard and pair of sneakers, along with a 2014 school yearbook signed by thousands of students.
Saturday’s event put a major spotlight on the importance of providing unique educational experiences and mentorship opportunities to develop tomorrow’s leaders. We’re incredibly fortunate to be working together with one of the world’s great creative forces and education advocates to call attention to that need.