BIPOC Voices, Living

Is Kanye’s Donda Academy legit?

Like everything about Ye, it’s complicated.

words by: Kayla Carmicheal
Sep 24, 2022

Short answer: It’s complicated. Chances are, you’ve heard of Kanye’s new school, Donda Academy. The private Christian academy went viral a couple weeks ago when he shared photos of students in their element, wearing the uniform, Yeezy merch. And now, even though little is still known about the inner workings of the school, more info has come to light. And, in true Kanye fashion, some of the details are… unconventional.


About Donda Academy

Kanye, who’s claimed he’s never read a book, named the academy after his late mother, English Professor Donda West (as well as albums Donda and Donda 2). Its mission is to use an “ethic of integrity and care,” preparing students “to become the next generation of leaders, thinkers and innovators.” The website states its staff is devoted to personalized learning, cultivating learners and Christ-followers for life, engaging the student’s mind, body, and spirit.


Most of the questions surrounding the school (and its legitimacy) seem to be about its lack of transparency. However, it’s a private school, and this type of thing isn’t uncommon.


Producer and school consultant, Malik Yusef, backs this. “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.”


Additionally, Rolling Stone reports that families have to sign NDAs — a school consultant clarifies only parents have to sign the “informal agreement.”


Instructor slots weren’t filled until shortly before the year started. Not to mention, the principal and choir director is M.S.E. student, Brianne Campbell. She has no formal background in education, but the 28-year-old will have her Master’s from Pepperdine next August.


Campbell needing to be qualified is important for the obvious reason — effectively being able to do the job — but also because D.A. is applying for accreditation at one of the top agencies in California. A stamp of legitimacy for many, including prospective colleges. Some won’t accept diplomas and credits from schools without it, and requirements for said accreditation include qualified staff and chief administration officers.


D.A. is really gunning for legitimacy. For example, there’s the Donda Doves (adidas-approved) basketball team, currently hosting ESPN top high school picks, including Robert Dillingham. Uniforms by Balenciaga, because you have to ball in style.


Furthering the “this is real” cause, according to Yusef, Kanye plans to open 5 more campuses in the future, a dream he’s always had. There’s even a vision for a university. This initial Donda Academy is essentially a test-run to see if a celebrity can pull off an educational institution.


So, what are the students learning?

Each day, students have full school worship. Then, they move onto language arts, science, and math. After lunch and recess, enrichment courses — World Language, Choir, Film, Visual Art, and Parkour. Other class offerings dive into fashion design and STEM.


So, like with most school years, Donda Academy’s year began in late August with 100 students (none of which are his 4 children, much to his chagrin, as his IG states). According to Yousef, some are the children of Kanye’s friends and collaborators, such as Keyshia Cole’s son and a child in a YouTube family, whose parents posted pictures and videos, respectively.


So, is Donda Academy legit?

According to some of the deciders in the state of California, not yet. But it is a place where kids learn things, and offers instruction and activities for grades K-12. So if that’s your definition of a school…yeah.


We’ll see if Donda Academy becomes one of the first schools backed by a celebrity to become an accredited success. And if the uniform changes, know that Kanye has ended his collaborations with the Gap, Balenciaga and adidas.


Photo via Donda Academy