Legendary hip-hop producer Dr. Dre and entertainment mogul Jimmy Iovine are well-known giants in the music industry, but their newest joint venture takes them out of the studio and industry boardrooms and into a new world—the world of education.
Specifically, the two music icons are taking on the daunting task of providing underprivileged and underserved inner-city youth with a quality education they likely couldn’t access otherwise. They’re doing this by launching their own magnet school in a largely Black and Latino school district in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the school, which is tentatively named Regional High School No. 1, was approved last week by the L.A. Board of Education and is expected to open in fall 2022.
Dre, whose real name is Andre Young, told the Times that in launching this new school—which will be located at Audubon Middle School in Leimert Park—he’s looking to reach “the inner-city kid—the younger me.”
“That guy that didn’t have an opportunity, that had to scratch and figure out things on his own,” he said. “That had the curiosity but didn’t have these type of opportunities, really smart kids — we want to touch and give them this open door and these opportunities to be able to show what they can do.”
The school is reportedly designed to prepare students for the corporate world and to provide students who are interested in entrepreneurship with the tools they need to be successful in their ventures.
“This is for kids who want to go out and start their own company or go work at a place... like Marvel, or Apple or companies like that,” Iovine told the Times, adding that, despite the duo’s known area of expertise, “This is nowhere near a music school.”
From the Times:
The concept is to engage students as future entrepreneurs and real-world problem-solvers, said Erica Muhl, founding dean of the USC academy, launched with a $70-million gift from the pair. At the academy, teams of students with different skills and roles tackle an issue or problem together in an “impact lab” — typically in collaboration with experts from private industry and nonprofits.
One project has been to improve the patient experience and better integrate the work of medical professionals at a new medical center. Another project helped lay the groundwork for the new high school, which is intended to mirror the model of the USC program.
Similarly, the high school version will incorporate high-tech equipment and projects with private industry. A task could have something to do with music or incorporate an element of music. But as Iovine said, this is no music school or Hip Hop High.
According to Dre and Iovine, gaining approval from the Board of Education trustees was an uphill battle. The board was concerned that there are already “far more available classrooms than needed, and a high school this proposed size—about 250 students—would be financially unsustainable based on state funding levels,” the Times reports. But the two moguls of Death Row, Aftermath and Interscope Records fame were determined to see their ambitions realized—as their careers and legacies prove they have always been. So they assured the board that what they are creating will succeed against all odds. That, along with the support and contributions of the University of Southern California—which has run a similar Dre and Iovine-launched educational program, the Iovine and Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation, since 2013—was enough to finally get the trustees on board with the duo’s dream.
Dre told the Times that he found it frustrating “how difficult it is to do something positive and to help,” but fortunately, he and Iovine didn’t allow the roadblocks to deter them.
Dre also said that, as someone who hated school himself, he hopes the institution of learning he’s helping to launch will draw in educators who know how to make learning engaging and exciting.
“No kid wants to go to school,” Dre said. “Because it’s boring. You keep flipping the same thing over and over and over again, year after year, with the same curriculum, the same teachers.”
Listen: This is dope! There aren’t many things Black people love to see more than wealthy and successful people giving back to the very communities and cultures that made their wealth and success possible. Dre and Iovine both deserve all of their flowers for launching this effort to improve education where it needs the most improvement.