Pharrell Williams, Georgia Tech & Amazon partner on education project

Pharrell Williams, of N.E.R.D., performs at the Pemberton Festival in Pemberton, B.C., Canada on Sunday. Jay-Z and Coldplay were also scheduled to perform.
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Pharrell Williams, of N.E.R.D., performs at the Pemberton Festival in Pemberton, B.C., Canada on Sunday. Jay-Z and Coldplay were also scheduled to perform.

Credit: Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press

Credit: Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press

Music superstar Pharrell Williams scored another hit last year with “Entrepreneur,” a collaboration with Jay-Z that celebrated African Americans who created their own business enterprises.

Williams is now looking to develop the coding skills of future, socially-conscious entrepreneurs, with some help from Georgia Tech.

Williams, Georgia Tech and Amazon announced Tuesday they are partnering on a music education competition that will provide $5,000 scholarships to the winning middle and high school students or grants to start a business.

The initiative, “Your Voice is Power,” is designed to expand computer science education to more students from underserved communities and groups currently underrepresented in the technology sector.

“Teaching kids future-ready skills like coding, especially those kids for whom opportunities like this have not been equally distributed, is how we prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs,” Williams said in a statement.

All middle and high school students around the U.S. and Canada are eligible to participate. The first round of the competition runs from January 19 through March 12. The second round of the competition will run from March 15 through June 4.

Using Georgia Tech’s EarSketch platform, students will code a remix of the song. Submitted remixes will be judged based on quality of music, code, and messaging by a panel of industry professionals. Students and teachers interested in the initiative and competition can learn more at https://www.amazonfutureengineer.com/yourvoiceispower.

Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera has talked frequently since his arrival in 2019 about finding ways to better engage students in the Atlanta Public Schools system, particularly schools near the campus in Midtown Atlanta. Most students in those nearby schools live in low-income households.

The “Your Voice is Your Power” initiative is one of several partnership Amazon has agreed upon since last year to bring about social justice.