Russell Wilson, Ciara to fund charter high school in Des Moines

To open in fall 2021

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and singer Ciara announced Wednesday the launch of the first Why Not You Academy scheduled to open in fall 2021 in Des Moines.

The tuition-free, charter public high school will be funded by the Why Not You Foundation run by Wilson and Ciara. They will work in partnership with charter public school leaders Garth Reeves and Scott Canfield, who had planned to open Cascade Midway Academy this fall as part of Cascade Public Schools, which received charter status last year from the State Charter School Commission. They delayed opening due to COVID-19 and looked for more financial support.

The Why Not You Academy will be at 22419 Pacific Highway S., just north of Kent. The initial enrollment will include only ninth-grade students.

“We’ve always held the belief that life’s successes start with a good education, but recognize that access isn’t always created equally for all,” according to a statement from Wilson and Ciara. “The Why Not You Foundation was created with the concept of empowering youth to lead with a why not you attitude and that’s why it was important for our foundation to partner with Scott, Garth, and Cascade Public Schools to help open doors for kids from less fortunate backgrounds. This school is a longtime dream of ours and it was important for us to find a way to combine traditional classroom learning with community and mentorship-based activities, in order to prepare kids for the real world. Why Not You is based on the idea that it can start with one and our hope is that this school will be the first of many.”

Wilson and Ciara contributed about $1.75 million to the school, according to the Associated Press.

Why Not You Academy will offer students a personalized approach to their education needs and is an extension of the Why Not You Foundation’s belief that high-quality education should be accessible to all students, according to the announcement. The school will continue to inspire tomorrow’s leaders to lead with a why not you attitude, and just like all charter public schools in Washington, Why Not You Academy has the flexibility to innovate and tailor learning using a blend of relevant classroom learning with meaningful real-world experiences.

The curriculum is based on three pillars:

• Personalization: Personal learning plans based on each student’s vision, passions, and goals for life following high school.

• Leave to Learn: Opportunities to connect with industry professionals through internships and mentorships.

• 21st Century Academics: A rigorous, relevant, and culturally responsive curriculum focused on deeper learning to support the skills needed to succeed after school, such as communicating effectively and working collaboratively to solve complex problems.

Why Not You Academy is the first school planned for a larger, national network backed by the Why Not You Foundation and hopes to provide prospective students with a resource and added option to determine the learning environment that best suits their needs. Every student will receive an equal opportunity for success by filling the gap and leveling the playing field, while prioritizing students who have been systematically underserved.

For more information, visit wnyacademy.org.

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