Kanye West has a few requirements before your child can enroll at his coming-of-age Donda Academy school. Not only will Ye’ charge parents $15,000 a year for tuition, a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) allegedly needs to be signed.
Reports of the California Christian private school began raising eyebrows since its announcement, following comments the mogul made about never reading a book in his life. The academy, named after his late mother Donda West, “upholds a level of secrecy that is cemented with a signature from those who choose to attend,” according to a report by Rolling Stone.
The school is currently unaccredited and its curriculum will include finance, pointers from NBA players, direct access to Kanye and his industry connections, a school’s choir (which will participate in West’s Sunday Service), as well as fashion and other creative interests. Malik Yusef, producer and longtime collaborator with West, says he helped shape the school’s concept.
“I want to be emphatic that there’s never been a time that Kanye West did not want to do this,” Yusef said. “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.”
In late August, the institution opened its doors to roughly 100 students, as parents proudly posted images of their children’s first day, dressed in all-black uniforms. The Donda Academy also launched an all-star Donda Doves basketball team with 21 students ranging from kindergarten to eighth grade, according to the California Department of Education.
Yusef shared that some of the students belong to some of Kanye’s collaborators, creatives, and other celebrity peers such as Keyshia Cole. The R&B singer posted a picture of her son sporting his Donda uniform. However, the level of secrecy the school is daunting to some. According to Yusef, “The process of Donda school is for the parishioners, for the attendees,” he says. “I don’t think Kanye needs to tell the world what he’s doing, so that he can be under more scrutiny.”
He added, “People choose to bring their kids to Donda Academy for a sense of privacy. 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.” Tamar Andrews, a consultant for Donda, confirmed that parents were asked to sign an “informal agreement” of some sort when questioned about requirements to enroll.
“Honestly, we don’t care if people know about the school,” Andrews said. “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. So, I don’t know that we have to advertise, which is a blessing and a curse.”
She also shared that the current enrollment of students was just under 100 participants and 16 full-time teachers. However, there are applications pouring in to work at the academy. Many of the students have also received financial assistance or scholarships backed by Kanye’s personal network. Andrews also confirmed that Donda Academy has applied for accreditation with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the leading accreditation agency for all academic institutions in California.
WASC requires the school to have a chief administration officer who is qualified for the position, as well as qualified instructional staff in order to receive accreditation. Andrews says the determining visit will happen in spring 2023.