The founders of the USC Iovine and Young Academy recently announced plans to open a magnet high school in South Los Angeles, mirroring the educational philosophy of the IYA school. The January announcement by founders Jimmy Iovine and Andre “Dr. Dre” Young focused on the school’s initiative of teaching students “The Business of Innovation” through arts and technology.
The funds for the school were derived from Iovine selling his global producing catalog to Hipgnosis Songs Fund, a music investment and song management firm founded by Merck Mercuriadis.
“I’m happy that my work as a producer with so many great artists has found the right home with Merck and Hipgnosis,” Iovine said in a statement. “I am going to use the proceeds from the deal to help Iovine and Young Academy’s initiative to build a high school in South L.A. as part of the Iovine and Young Academy at USC and continue our efforts to support education.”
The school, set to be located right off of USC’s campus, will support underrepresented students in the neighborhood and offer an elite-level education at no cost.
Karine Kim, the communications manager at Iovine and Young Academy spoke to Annenberg Media over email about bringing this “unique educational model” to the high school environment.
“We’ve seen that preparation for programs like ours is not universally available, and we wanted to do something to increase access and strengthen college and career track opportunities in partnership with underserved communities,” Kim wrote over email. “The high school is a bold idea, and we want to get it right. In order to do so, it’s essential that we’re working with the communities to understand their needs and what works best for them.”
Kim said that they wanted to start their ever-expanding initiative by establishing a school in the South L.A. community, but that they are considering implementing similar programs in other communities and neighborhoods who need it. She also explained that the developing high school curriculum will involve a lot of collaborative projects and focus on real-world challenges.
“As with IYA’s college program, the high school curriculum will focus on nurturing creativity and critical thinking at the intersection of the arts, technology, entrepreneurship, and communication,” she wrote. “We espouse the ‘make, fail, learn, repeat,’ philosophy where students learn by doing and to quote, Jimmy Iovine, use ‘failure as fuel’ in the learning process.”
Morgan Polikoff, associate professor of education at USC, stressed the importance of high-quality educational opportunities for South L.A. students. Polikoff described the hindrances South L.A. students face and how this project could serve as a trailblazer for similar schools in the future.
“I’m more excited just in general about the idea of infusing resources and opportunities into neighborhoods that have been historically underserved by the city and by the district,” Polikoff said. “Hopefully, it’s not like a one-off, but hopefully it’s the beginning or the continuation of a movement to ensure that these students have equitable access to high quality opportunities.”
Sarah Schmaltz, an adjunct assistant professor of clinical education at USC, studies the social foundations of education. Schmaltz predicts heightened feelings of encouragement and hope following the opening of the school, for both educators and students.
“We’ve all been through a lot and, even more so, the siloed effect of teaching online has been even harder on so many of us,” Schmaltz said. “The interconnectedness of this program can really come to light and really be a beacon, an inspiration and a way for us to communicate and learn from each other … So I think that having this in there will really be an inspiration to our schools and really be a beacon in all of this.”
While the plans for IYA’s new program are still underway, Kim said that USC will be directly involved with the high school, especially at the early stages of designing and developing the curriculum.
“We also hope to contribute to the design of the physical learning space and developing out the technology requirements,” Kim wrote. “It’s important to note that while the high school and college program will share the same ethos and pedagogy, they will be distinct institutional entities.”
However, Kim also said that the IYA faculty’s expertise and mentorship will be available to high school students, as will the Iovine and Young Hall and USC campus facilities. While there is no set launch date for the program, Kim said that IYA looks forward to the future of the project.
“As you can imagine, this is a big, bold, complex idea that is still under development,” she wrote. “But we’re excited about the tremendous progress we are making and the impact it will have on our community.”