What did Nikole Hannah-Jones say about Jay-Z's Roc Nation? Rapper's educational campaign in Philadelphia criticized over funding

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Jay-Z's Roc Nation campaign is over funded (Image via John Phillips/Getty Images for BFI)

Shawn Corey Carter, aka Jay-Z, recently announced a campaign that aims to improve youth education for students in Philadelphia on June 7, 2024. Carried out via Jay-Z's entertainment label Roc Nation, the campaign aims to fund underprivileged children in grades K–12 to attend private schools with about $300 million in scholarships.

Roc Nation will be hosting a series of events across Philadelphia from June 10 to June 21, 2024, to create awareness about Senate Bill 757, aka the Pennsylvania Award for Student Success (PASS).

However, the campaign has been criticized by American investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who took to X on June 8, 2024, to call out the campaign on multiple points.

In her tweet, the journalist mentioned:

"I really wish rich, out-of-touch folks who nothing about education would just stop."

Additionally, she asked her followers to "read the fine print" and mentioned that the campaign in question is a government voucher program, which in the past has not shown convincing results. Given that most Black children cannot secure a seat in high-quality private schools.

Nikole Hannah-Jones is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who has worked for The New York Times Magazine since 2015. She is also the creator of The 1619 Project, which has been adopted into a Hulu original docuseries.


"Its involvement is to convince poor Black parents to leave the public schools" — Nikole Hannah-Jones on Jay-Z's Roc Nation educational campaign

According to Billboard, in a statement released by Dania Diaz, Managing Director of Philanthropy- Roc Nation, Diaz mentioned the organization's "special connection with Philadelphians." Diaz's statement also stated that Roc Nation has made it their mission to invest in the success of Philadelphia's changemakers, and that:

“Impact starts with the students and with awareness. We want to empower the youth and families with the knowledge to pursue their scholastic dreams, make their voices heard and become the leaders of tomorrow.”

On the contrary, in the tweet calling out Jay-Z's campaign for educating the less privileged in Philadelphia, journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones mentioned that the money for the campaign is coming from taxpayers.

She clarified that it is not Jay-Z's Roc Nation that is sponsoring the campaign but the government, and that the entertainment company is apparently being paid to launch the campaign.

(Image via X/ @nhannahjones)
(Image via X/ @nhannahjones)

However, this fact has already been clarified by Roc Nation. According to NBC Philadelphia, in a statement given by Roc Nation while launching the campaign, it was stated that the required funds would be fulfilled by the government. Also, the campaign wouldn't reduce the overall budget allocated to public school education programs.

Meanwhile, Nikole Hannah-Jones mentioned:

"I'm researching. But certainly, it's involvement is to convince poor Black parents to leave the public schools."

Next, the journalist questioned what $300 million could do to improve the low-performing public schools in the region. Nikole also stated that such programs not receiving funding from public schools is a lie, as fewer kids in the classroom means less donation to the school.

Toward the end of her tweet, Nikole called Roc Nation's campaign a "windfall to the city's private schools" at the cost of the public schools most children attend.


While there is some controversy surrounding Jay-Z's latest educational initiative, Roc Nation has previously worked toward uplifting the Philadephia community over the years. Their efforts include the REFORM Alliance, which helped pass legislation to assist citizens on probation or parole in Pennsylvania, and the Made in America festival.

Edited by Dev Sharma
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