Kanye West has opened the doors of his mysterious new Christian Preparatory school, just weeks after feuding with ex-wife Kim Kardashian over their four children’s education.
The controversial rapper and designer aims to create a ‘new generation of leaders’ through classes that includes athletic discipline Parkour at Donda Academy, named after his late mother, in Simi Valley, California.
The school opened to 100 young students in August, with photos circulating on social media appearing to show them in loose-fitting uniforms apparently designed by 45-year old West’s Adidas endorsed Yeezy brand.
Donda enrolment is believed to cost $15,000 per year, but a statement on its website claims ‘everyone is welcome to apply regardless of financial situation.’
To that end, as many as half of the students currently receiving tuition at the facility are believed to be the recipients of financial assistance or school scholarships.
The latest: Kanye West, 45, has opened up a private Christian prep school in Simi Valley, California titled the Donda Academy. He was pictured in November of 2019 in Houston
However a Rolling Stone probe of the school unveiled a number of abnormalities, including a lack of detail regarding the curriculum compared to similar schools.
According to its website Donda currently offers core classes in Mathematics, English Language, Arts and Science alongside regular Christian worship and two obligatory ‘enrichment classes.’
These include Visual Arts, Film, World Language, Choir and Parkour – a form of exercise that typically involves running, climbing and vaulting with graceful, fluid motions from one point to another.
Information from two sources also indicate that families of those enrolled in the school are mandated to sign nondisclosure agreements.
The chosen ones: In a post on Instagram earlier this month, West shared images of kids in school uniforms characteristic of his loose fitting Yeezy designs
Outlandish: West is famed for his unconventional, oversized clothing (seen here in New York City on May 22, 2022)
A school consultant told the outlet that only parents are asked to sign the NDAs, describing them as an ‘informal agreement.’
The school caters to children aged five to 18 and allots 12 students per class, but has not yet received accreditation, according to the outlet, and was seeking to hire teachers ahead of the school year.
Information regarding who comprises the school’s faculty and student body has been unclear, as the outlet did not receive any responses to multiple attempts to contact listed administrators and heads of the sporting programs.
A manager for West did not respond to a comment request about the school, nor did parents who send their kids there, according to the outlet.
The mission statement of the educational institution, according to its website, is to build ‘the next generation of leaders, thinkers and innovators by providing them with a world-class education that includes a rigorous core curriculum, and an emphasis on sustainability, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving… using an ethic of integrity and care.’
Donda in a day: According to its website Donda currently offers core classes in Mathematics, English Language, Arts and Science alongside regular Christian worship and two obligatory ‘enrichment classes’
A large selling point for the school is its choir program, which looked to be tied into West’s exclusive Sunday Service gatherings, and that auditions were held last spring.
A pair of sources told the outlet that the school took accepted seven kids from nearby youth programs, for what is a ‘life-changing’ experience for students, particularly those who could not afford the private tuition.
A source who worked with a culinary branch of the school said that it was focused on creating and ‘elevated high-concept coffee, tea and fruit focused beverages for kids, parents and faculty.’
‘Think like distilled chicory coffee shaved ice with milk syrup,’ the source said. ‘We led a food science class for the students as well where the kids can learn [the] fundamentals of cooking.’
Ambition: West had previously floated the notion of opening a school called the Yeezy Christian Academy in October of 2020
The ‘Head of School’ is listed as Brianne Campbell, according to the California Department of Education. Rolling Stone reported that Campbell, 28, has ‘has never held a formal position as an educator,’ with her most notable correlating experience coming with a musical tutoring business she runs out of her home.
Campbell, who did not respond to an interview request from the publication, enrolled in a master’s degree program in education at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles earlier this year and is projected to finish the course in just less than year.
A producer and associate of West named Malik Yusef told the outlet that West takes the project very seriously and has a five-year plan to open multiple campuses nationwide.
‘I want to be emphatic that there’s never been a time that Kanye West did not want to do this,’ Yusef told Rolling Stone. ‘I think people don’t understand the gravity of that. This man always wanted to create a school in his mama’s name.
‘Look at what we’re doing with the choir and the fashion in school – I don’t think there’s a venture capitalist or anybody that’s had a vision this clear on what education can look like for you.’
The latest: West recently shared a photo of himself embracing his four children, amid his ongoing battle with Adidas, Gap and dispute with ex-wife Kim Kardashian over their schooling
According to the CDE, the school has a basketball team named the Donda Doves.
Late last month, the school enrolled around 100 students, with many parents posting to social media images of their children in all-black school uniforms.
Elsewhere images circulated of the students in an empty warehouse, dining on meals and getting to meet NBA star Jaylen Brown, Rolling Stone reported.
Yusef said that children enrolled in the school are those of West’s associates, as well as people in the entertainment industry and other high-profile lines of work.
Yusef said that public facts about the school were likely vague by design, as West doesn’t need to explain himself, and parents themselves prefer the privacy.
‘People choose to bring their kids to Donda Academy for a sense of privacy,’ Yusef said. ‘A sense of care, a sense of concern, a sense of love, an environment of health, and an environment of wealth, an environment of learning, and putting God as a focus.’
He added: ‘I don’t think Kanye needs to tell the world what he’s doing, so that he can be under more scrutiny.’
Long term plans: West takes his new school very seriously and has a five-year plan to open multiple campuses nationwide, his associate Malik Yusef told Rolling Stone
Donda consultant Tamar Andrews told Rolling Stone that parents sign an ‘informal agreement’ when she was asked about confidentiality agreements upon enrollment.
Publicity wasn’t a pressing priority for the school, according to Andrews.
‘Honestly, we don’t care if people know about the school,’ she told the outlet. ‘The people that want to come to the school are looking for a good Christian school in that area and they know that we’re there … there is also a certain notoriety that comes with being affiliated with Donda.’
She added, ‘So, I don’t know that we have to advertise, which is a blessing and a curse.’
Andrews told the outlet that the school has a student body of less than 100 students with 15 teachers and annual enrollment fee of $15,000; she added that about half of the student body are sent to the school via financial aid or scholarships funded by West’s ‘personal network.’
Andrews said that the school is not accredited currently but has applied with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and has a meeting set for the future. The WASC focuses on the school’s personnel – namely the chief administration officer and instructors – in determining if the school is accredited.
Not bad: Schoolchildren at Donda Academy have been seen in Yeezy foam-runners, not unlike the new 450 Resin design recently shared by West (pictured)
The rapper had previously floated the notion of opening a school called the Yeezy Christian Academy in October of 2020, according to the outlet.
In posts on Instagram earlier this month, West shared images of kids in school uniforms in designs under his Yeezy label and the Gap label – which he has since moved to terminate.
An attorney for West – who refers to himself as ‘Ye’ – told The Associated Press that a letter has been sent to the American clothing chain seeking to terminate the contract between Gap and West’s company, Yeezy.
The clash comes a little over a year after Yeezy’s first item— a blue quilted jacket — appeared in Gap stores. The deal was announced in June 2020 to much fanfare.
Parents of four: West has furiously posted screen-grabs of his text arguments with Kim over where their children should go to school
In the letter that West’s lawyer shared with AP on Thursday, it said that Gap failed to meet obligations in the pact, including distributing merchandise to Gap store locations and creating dedicated YZY Gap stores.
‘Gap left Ye no choice but to terminate their collaboration agreement because of Gap’s substantial noncompliance,’ said Nicholas Gravante, West’s attorney with Cadwalader Wickersham and Taft, in an emailed statement to the AP.
‘Ye had diligently tried to work through these issues with Gap both directly and through counsel. He has gotten nowhere.’
Gravante said that Gap’s failure to comply with the terms of the contract has been costly. He said West plans to begin opening Yeezy retail stores.
Gap confirmed that the pact was ending in a memo to its employees.
‘Simply put… while we share a vision of bringing high-quality, trend-forward, utilitarian design to all people through unique omni experiences with Yeezy Gap, how we work together to deliver this vision is not aligned,’ Mark Breitbard, president and chief executive of Gap Brand told employees in the memo.
‘And we are deciding to wind down the partnership.’
The company does however plan to continue selling the Yeezy Gap products that were already in the pipeline.
West also groused that his four kids with ex-wife Kim Kardashian are not enrolled at the school and has posted screen-grabs of his text arguments with the TV personality over where they should go to school.