Ciara and Russell Wilson are now proud co-founders of a tuition-free public charter high school in Washington state. The Why Not You Academy started its first fall semester with 100 students last month.
The Seattle Seahawks quarterback shared his excitement about the first day on his Instagram. ” Today was the 1st day of school at @wnyacademy, ” the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year posted on his Instagram on Sept.1. “A day we’ve always been waiting for!!!! The opportunity to build and develop a school. What a blessing.”
Why Not You Academy is a partnership between charter public school leaders Garth Reeves and Scott Canfield and the Why Not You Foundation, a nonprofit the couple created in 2014. It services underserved kids who live just south of Seattle. Its goal is to prepare students to be both “book smart, street smart and worldwise, self-directed life learners, community leaders, and world-class communicators and collaborators.”
“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,” the couple said in a joint statement. “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.”
The philanthropic couple
The academy came to fruition last year when the couple contributed about $1.75 million to the existing Cascade Midway Academy, through their nonprofit. At the time, Cascade Midway was struggling financially during the pandemic; so much so the school was forced to postpone its 2020 debut. With the help of Ciara and Russell, the academy was rebranded and renamed after their nonprofit to honor their donation.
The Wilsons hope the Washington location will be the first of many Why Not You Academy sites across the country. The foundation and academy are two of several philanthropic endeavors the couple has accomplished.
The Seattle Sounders owners are also supporters of the Seattle-based Rainier Scholars program that helps low-income students of color prepare for college and the Rwanda Girls Initiative, which runs a science and technology-focused boarding school for girls in Africa. The “Level Up” singer also recently partnered with Trinidian-rum brand Ten To One.
But the best is still yet to come. Next year, the Wilsons will make their debut as children’s book authors. The WHY NOT YOU? book hits bookshelves March 2022. Preorders are available now.
Deidre Redhead is a junior journalism and international relations student at Stony Brook University. Her bylines include The Statesman and Mission Magazine.