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Pharrell is introducing a 'micro-school' to Norfolk. Here's who's eligible and how you can apply.

Lottery applications opened up June 1 for YELLOWHAB and will be open for one month.

NORFOLK, Va. — Grammy Award-winning artist and Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams once again has his hands in the Hampton Roads community, this time on the education beat. 

Coming September 7 is the YELLOWHAB initiative from Pharrell's non-profit YELLOW. It's defined as a "micro-school" that offers a more personalized and hands-on approach to traditional learning. 

"He [Pharrell] talks about it a lot from his own experience: learning in his own unique way, everybody has a unique way they learn, but sometimes it’s not properly accommodated by the school," YELLOW Executive Director Mike McGalliard told 13News Now Monday. 

YELLOWHAB is an independent, privately funded program that will not be charging tuition in the program's inaugural academic school year. Between 40 to 50 kids between 3rd and 5th grade will be selected from a pool of applications from families living within the City of Norfolk. 

“There are lesson plans. When we say 'non-traditional' it doesn’t mean we’re throwing everything out. Some things work," McGalliard said. "The best educational examples that we’re borrowing from are examples of project-based learning.”

McGalliard said it's a pivot from the traditional classroom setting for a number of reasons, including the doing away of standard grade systems and introducing a more problem-solving-based curriculum, tailored to a student’s specific strengths and differences.

“Those labels are so detrimental to children. They can carry them much of their lives. So Pharrell wanted to approach differently, and say, 'Let's access children differently, find their strengths and look for those differences,'" McGalliard said.

Students will be chosen through a lottery enrollment running until July 1, and available to any child who is:

  • A resident of Norfolk, Virginia
  • A rising 3rd, 4th, or 5th grader
  • Qualifies for the Federal Free and Reduced-price Lunch program, or meets family income requirements

A physical location has been set for the project but is not being disclosed at this time.

Here is some other information regarding the school:

  • The academic year will run until June 2022
  • Before and after school care will be offered
  • No enrollment interviews will be conducted
  • Students will be placed in a group of 10 children, called a CREW
  • Meals will be provided
  • YELLOWHAB is a 1:1 campus with technology
  • Teachers, and even volunteers, are still being sought 
  • YELLOWHAB will reach out to families after the lottery to accommodate transportation options

Other partners on the school initiative include: Walton Family Foundation, The YMCA on Granby, American Heart Association, consulted with NASA scientists, educators from Harvard, educators and families from Hampton Roads (via virtual community forums)

More information and the application can be found on the YELLOW website.