Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs to Open Charter School in Harlem

(Photo: Shamsuddin Muhammad, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Shamsuddin Muhammad, Creative Commons)

Rapper, producer, and entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs has become the newest celebrity to invest his money into primary education as the founder of a new charter school in Harlem, New York.

In an announcement earlier this week, Combs said the new school, Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School, is set to open this fall.  It will be managed by Capital Preparatory Schools, which was founded in 2012.

Steve Perry, the organization’s founder, will oversee the school.  He is currently the principal of Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut.  The school has been in operation since 2005, targeting students who are historically disadvantaged.  According to the organization, all students who graduate from the school go on to become accepted to college, reports Lonnie Shekhtman for The Christian Science Monitor.

Combs and the board have hired Danita Jones out of Orlando, Florida to become the principal of Capital Prep Harlem.

Combs said creating the school “is a dream come true.”

He began working toward creating the school in 2011 after spending years searching for the best education model.  After finding Perry’s Capital Prep program, he began to meet privately with Perry and community leaders and education experts in order to establish his program.  Dr. Iyanla Vanzant, the author and spiritual life coach who has worked frequently with Oprah Winfrey, and Reverend Georgiette Morgan-Thomas are both on the school’s board.

The school’s official site states that the school is a free, public school for children in grades 6 – 12.  It offers a “year-round, college preparatory education” and offers college courses to students once they enter high school.  In its inaugural year, 160 students will be accepted in the 6th and 7th grades.  The deadline to apply is April 1.

The location of the school was recently announced by the board as being on the museum mile stretch in East Harlem.  The school will be inside the same building as El Museo Del Barrio and Museum of the City of New York, reports Brittany Spanos for Rolling Stone.

Born in Harlem, Combs grew up in Mount Vernon, New York.  He attended Howard University, though he dropped out after two years.  The school issued him an honorary degree in 2014.

Combs reportedly earned $60 million in 2015 as a result of a variety of investments, including Ciroc vodka, water brand AQUAhydrate, RevoltTV and the clothing line Sean John.  He also released the mixtape MMM in the fall and began to work on a sitcom based on his former assistant called The Hustle.

He joins a long list of celebrities who put their wealth into the creation of charter schools, which are independently run and offer more flexibility than public schools.  Former NBA player Jalen Rose, tennis champion Andre Agassi, and rapper Pitbull are all notable members of the charter school movement.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has also donated to education, giving $100 million in 2010 to reform failing schools in Newark, New Jersey and funding the creation of a new school model in California.  Charter school expansion was a major focus of his Newark effort.