The Grammy-winning performer and Seattle Seahawks star quarterback are dropping $1.75 million to fund and rebrand a charter school in the Seattle area that has been mired by challenges within the Washington state charter sector.
Formerly known as Cascade Midway Academy, located just south of Seattle, the Why Not You Academy focuses on academics, personalized student plans and internships and mentorships for underserved Black and brown students.
Wilson and Ciara will not be part of the day-to-day charter school operations as those tasks will be handled by Cascade founders Garth Reeves and Scott Canfield, who reached out to the Wilson Foundation as the school was in dire need of funding in order to remain open amid the coronavirus pandemic, which forced its closure.
“I’m really confident...about the team that we have here and how we’re building things out,” Ciara told The Associated Press in an interview on Wednesday. “We’re passionate about everything. We’re all in on this.”
The couple hopes the deal will jumpstart a string of Why Not You Academies across the country to serve underprivileged students and their families.
The Wilsons’ efforts are motivated by the desire to lend assistance where needed and the former North Carolina State University and University of Wisconsin standout comes from a lineage of educated parents.
His father Harrison Wilson, who died in June 2010, earned an Ivy League education and law degree before he launched his own firm and Wilson told ESPN in August that the encouragement he often received from his father shaped much of Wilson’s existence.
"My dad, when I was young, he always inspired me," Wilson told ESPN. "He used to always ask me the question, 'Son, why not you? Why don't you play pro baseball? Why don't you play pro football?' The idea of 'Why not you?' was really at the center of who I was. I started really subconsciously and consciously asking myself that question."
For Wilson, the Why Not You Academy is the stamp he needs to not only carry on his father’s message but change the lives of countless students moving forward.
“We’ve been so committed over the past four years to education,” Wilson told the Associated Press. “This isn’t anything political for us.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.