By: Ajalee Pulley

Rapper, entrepreneur and Harlem native Sean “Diddy” Combs took matters into his own hands to help improve New York City’s education system. He has partnered with Capital Preparatory to open a charter school in East Harlem.  The school will open this fall for the 2016-17 school year.

“Creating this school is a dream come true for me. I want to impact the lives of young people in my community and build future leaders. The first step is offering access to a quality education,” Combs said in a press release. “Every young person should have the tools they need to succeed. All our children should be able to pursue their dreams. That is something I can impact with this school.”

Combs had a vision of opening a school in his hometown since 2011, and dedicated his time searching for the best educational model. He came across Perry’s Capital Prep program, which he chose as his educational model. Since then Combs and Steve Perry, the founder of Capital Prep, have been privately meeting with community leaders and education experts to establish the program.

“I’m inspired by Sean Combs’s belief that educating our young people is the key to opening up a world of opportunity for them,” Perry said. “Sean and I have spent many long hours over the last five years talking about education and how best to meet the needs of the young people of Harlem, and I couldn’t be more pleased to continue this journey through the opening of the school.”

According to the school’s website, Capital Prep Harlem is a free, public school for grades 6-12. It will provide a “year-round, college preparatory education” and make college courses available to students once in high school. Admission is open to all New York state residents and applications will be accepted until April 1.

For its first year, 160 sixth and seventh graders will be selected to attend. Enrollment will continue to expand, increasing grade levels, until its first class graduates in 2023. When it reaches full enrollment, the school will have a total of 700 students in grades six through 12. Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School will be located at 1 East 104th Street, just off of Central Park.

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