Copyright Office Names Mechanical Licensing Collective



Copyright Office Names Mechanical Licensing Collective

Ahead of schedule, the U.S. Copyright Office chooses who will run the MLC and recognizes the Academy's helpful input through the selection process

Advocacy/Jul 9, 2019 - 02:46 am

The day after Independence Day saw a surprise from the U.S. Copyright Office. In accordance with the Music Modernization Act (MMA), the Office made its designation for the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), choosing Mechanical Licensing Collective, Inc. (MLCI) to manage the new blanket mechanical license and handle royalty collection and distribution as established by the MMA. Under the statute, the designation was due on July 9.

The MLCI, the group submission led by led by the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and the Songwriters of North America (SONA), ultimately prevailed over a competing proposal known as the American Music Licensing Collective (AMLC). In making the designation, the Copyright Office concludes that the "AMLC’s goals and principles are laudable, and its submission includes a number of ideas that should be given further consideration," but that ultimately "MLCI’s planning and organizational detail provide a more reliable basis for concluding that it will be able to meet the MLC’s administrative obligations." The MLC will begin issuing the new license in January 2021.

The 88-page Final Rule released by the Copyright Office also includes the designation for the Digital Licensing Coordinator (DLC), the entity that will represent the interests of the digital streaming services that use the new blanket license. Only one candidate, which includes representatives from Spotify, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Pandora, was submitted for consideration as the DLC.

Along with their ahead-of-schedule designation, the Copyright Office cited the Recording Academy's comments frequently in its Final Rule, noting how the Academy’s input informed its decision-making process. In the final analysis of the determination, the Copyright Office buttresses its conclusion by recognizing that “the Recording Academy, a rare organization to withhold endorsement until it was able to study each candidates' proposals, weighed in on the perceived capabilities of the two proposals, ultimately endorsing MLCI ‘upon careful consideration of both submissions.’ The Academy noted that MLCI’s 'submission embodies a thoughtful, meticulous, and comprehensive approach,' concluding that it was 'best equipped to satisfy' the duties of the MMA.”

The Copyright Office then followed the Academy’s lead, concluding that “[f]or somewhat similar reasons, the Copyright Office concludes that MLCI is better equipped to operationalize the many statutory functions required by the MMA.”

Earlier, the Final Rule notes the Academy’s specific interest in ensuring that the MLC conducts robust matching of song data with unclaimed funds, highlighting that the “Recording Academy urged the Register to seek further information on MLCI’s commitments to match works and on when such commitments may reasonably be exhausted.”

The Copyright Office affirms the preeminence of reliable data matching and the Final Rule details the commitments and assurances provided by the MLCI to accomplish that goal. The Office also establishes its interpretation of the MMA that unclaimed accrued royalties may be held beyond the statutory holding period until such funds are matched to the appropriate owners. Accordingly, unclaimed royalties can be released and distributed by the MLC no sooner than January 2023, but they can also be held longer to facilitate continued matching.

The Office also calls out the importance of a game plan for outreach from the MLC to make sure that every songwriter is fully informed about the new entity and its importance. Outreach to the songwriter community was also a key issue in the Academy's recommendations.

"The Recording Academy asserts that 'without an effective outreach program, the Collective will not succeed,'" the rule reads. "While noting that both proposals contain information regarding public outreach, the Recording Academy suggests that both are insufficiently detailed with respect to clear and executable plans, and how each will measure the effectiveness of outreach. The Office questioned each candidate about specific plans and metrics in subsequent meetings."

Ultimately, the Copyright Office was satisfied by the answers provided by MLCI in response to the questions the Academy put forward for consideration. Recording Academy chief industry government and member relations officer Daryl Friedman thanked those involved in the decision making for considering the Academy's stance and input. "The Recording Academy congratulates the MLC, Inc. on its selection to run the new Collective, and thanks the Copyright Office for its diligence in its selection process that reflects attentiveness to the Academy’s comments," Friedman said. "The Academy now looks forward to utilizing its Chapters and thousands of members to assist the MLC in songwriter outreach to ensure the Collective’s success."

The MLC's success is important for everyone in the music community, but especially the songwriters who deserve fair, transparent compensation for their work. With the MLCI now primed to take over this significant role in implementing the MMA, the Academy stands ready to continue to leverage its community of music creators to support building a better system for all.

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Everything You Need To Know About The Recording Academy's 2023 At-Large Trustees Election
The Recording Academy's 2023 At-Large Trustees Election

Infographic Courtesy of the Recording Academy


Everything You Need To Know About The Recording Academy's 2023 At-Large Trustees Election

The Recording Academy's 2023 At-Large Trustees Election, open Tuesday, May 16 — Monday, May 22, is a pivotal opportunity to shape a well-rounded Board of Trustees and ensure diverse Recording Academy leadership. Here's everything you need to know.

Recording Academy/May 10, 2023 - 11:32 pm

Diverse representation in the Recording Academy's leadership relies on the active participation of its membership. Open  Tuesday, May 16 — Monday, May 22, the 2023 At-Large Trustees Election once again provides Voting and Professional Members a chance to have a say in who represents them and directly elect their fellow creators and professionals to the Board of Trustees.

A robust turnout for this election can make a meaningful difference in the future of the Academy. Every ballot cast increases the likelihood of having a well-rounded Board that reflects the varied backgrounds, genres, and disciplines of the wider music community.

Whether this is your first time voting or you need a refresher, here's everything you need to know about the Recording Academy's upcoming 2023 At-Large Trustees Election.

When is the 2023 At-Large Trustees Election?

The At-Large Trustees Election is held each spring. The 2023 election opens Tuesday, May 16, at 8 a.m. local time and runs through Monday, May 22, at 11:59 p.m. local time

What is the difference between Chapter Board Elections and the At-Large Trustees Election?

During Chapter Board Elections, which took place in March, Voting and Professional Members vote to elect Governors to their local Chapter Board, and Chapter Boards vote to elect their respective Chapter Officers and Trustees.

During the At-Large Trustees Election, all Voting and Professional Members have the opportunity to elect four Trustees to the Board of Trustees.

Who is eligible to vote in the At-Large Trustees Elections?

All Voting and Professional Members of the Recording Academy are eligible and encouraged to vote in the At-Large Trustees Election. 

Who serves on the Board of Trustees?

The Board of Trustees is composed of 42 total Trustees. Four Trustees serve as National Officers (Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary/Treasurer, and Chair Emeritus). Of the remaining 38, eight Trustees are elected At-Large by the entire Voting and Professional membership. Since Trustees serve staggered two-year terms, only half of the Board seats are up for election each year.

All members of the Board of Trustees meet the same qualifications and serve the same goal: to uphold the mission of the Recording Academy and serve the music community at large.

Infographic explaining the Recording Academy's 2023 At-Large Trustees Election voting process

Infographic explaining the Recording Academy's 2023 At-Large Trustees Election voting process | Infographic Courtesy of the Recording Academy

Who votes for Trustees?

Chapter Boards (Chapter Governors, Chapter Officers and Trustees) elect 15 Trustees each year during the Chapter Board Elections in the spring.

Voting and Professional Members elect four Trustees each year during the At-Large Trustees Election in May.

What are the responsibilities of Recording Academy Trustees?

In service to the greater music community, members of the Recording Academy Board of Trustees are responsible for: 

  • Mission Alignment

  • Corporate Governance

  • Strategic Oversight

  • CEO Oversight

  • Budget Oversight 

Why is voting in the At-Large Trustees Election important?

Your vote helps ensure a diverse, inclusive and representative Board.

As demonstrated by the Recording Academy's richly diverse 2022 New Member Class, the Academy is committed to cultivating a true sense of belonging that embraces all communities, musical influences and crafts that power the music industry. Members have an opportunity to elect leaders who reflect this inclusivity.

The Board of Trustees holds a responsibility to serve the needs and aspirations of our vastly diverse music community and ensures the policies and procedures put in place by the Academy represent the values of all members. In partnership with Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr., the Board of Trustees helps strategically guide and shape the mission and policies of the Academy and its commitment to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, fight for creators' rights, protect music people in need, and preserve music's history and invest in its future. 

Your vote makes a difference.

Voting in the At-Large Trustees Election ensures that your concerns and values as an active participant of the music community are heard and accurately represented on a national scale.

Voting is a right and a responsibility for all members.

While we love hearing creators' voices on stage and in recordings, it's our responsibility to listen to their concerns, ideas and recommendations to keep our Academy and our industry evolving.

Your vote is your voice.

As a member of the Recording Academy, your vote is tremendously valued and has the power to impact the Academy's greater goals and operations.

How can I vote in the At-Large Trustees Election?

When the At-Large Trustees Election opens on Tuesday, May 16, at 8 a.m. local time, Voting and Professional Members will receive an e-mail from the Recording Academy's online voting partner, Simply Voting, containing a direct link to their online ballot and a unique username and password. Please note this login is different from each member's Recording Academy login.

Once members click on their ballot link, they can review the candidate bios and cast their votes. Voting for the At-Large Trustees Election closes Monday, May 22, at 11:59 p.m. local time. 

If members did not receive an e-mail with their ballot, we ask them to please check their spam folder and add to their approved senders list. For any further questions or issues, members can reach out to 

Learn more about Recording Academy Governance and view the current list of Elected Leaders.

Your Vote, Your Voice: 6 Reasons Why Your GRAMMY Vote Matters

How The Recording Academy And United Nations Human Rights Are Tackling Climate Change: 5 Takeaways From The Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series
Wesley Schultz of the Lumineers performing at the Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series at the Boulder Theater in Colorado on April 13, 2023

Photo: Dave Arnold


How The Recording Academy And United Nations Human Rights Are Tackling Climate Change: 5 Takeaways From The Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series

The first activation of the Recording Academy's collaboration with United Nations Human Rights featured impassioned speeches about climate change and unforgettable performances from the Lumineers frontman Wesley Schultz and special guest Yola.

Recording Academy/Apr 28, 2023 - 04:58 pm

For centuries, music has soundtracked the fight for societal change and revolutions around the world. From the protest anthems of the Civil Rights Movement to the powerful songs fueling the protests in Iran, music has remained an essential ingredient in the ongoing battle for progress and universal equality. Now, the Recording Academy, in partnership with United Nations Human Rights, continues this long tradition of championing progress via music.

This month, the Recording Academy announced a partnership with several United Nations Human Rights-supported global initiatives that aims to promote global social justice via the power of music. The multifaceted campaign will invite leading artists to use their talents and platforms to advocate for United Nations Human Rights goals, including advocating for the rights of women and the LGBTQ+ community as well as a host of other human rights issues, including gender equality and climate justice.

The Right Here, Right Now Music initiative — a partnership between the Recording Academy and the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Alliance (Right Here, Right Now) — aims to combat the human rights crisis resulting from climate change, a timely issue impacting vurnerable communities around the world.

The Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series, the first activation in this newly announced partnership, addressed this important issue head-on. The concert, held in Colorado's iconic Boulder Theater on Thursday, April 13, enlisted major artists, including the Lumineerslead singer and co-founder Wesley Schultz and special guestYola, as well as leaders in the music and intergovernmental industries to call attention to the human rights implications of climate change.

The powerful performances from Yola and Schultz — combined with speeches addressing the importance of utilizing music as a tool to combat climate change — created an atmosphere of longing with an undercurrent of hope for the future.

"I wanted to show our support for these hosts, the Recording Academy and the United Nations [Human Rights], at this forum that addressed the interconnectedness of human rights and climate change," Schultz told the Recording Academy via email about his involvement in the Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series. "As touring musicians, we can raise awareness about sustainable goals and inspire dialogue about the global climate crisis. As touring musicians, we can raise awareness and amplify calls to action for governments, education, businesses, and individuals to fight the global climate crisis.

"It is everyone's responsibility to help battle climate change," he continued. "But as touring musicians, we must work to seek out real solutions to the sizable carbon footprint that being on the road causes. That's why I'm working with an organization like Sound Future, who are working on finding systemic fixes to help touring become more carbon neutral."

The Recording Academy attended the inaugural Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series in person. Below are five key takeaways from the collaborative launch event.

The Event's Location Was Chosen Deliberately

Photo of the outdoor marquee sign at the Boulder Theater in Colorado for the Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series on April 13, 2023

Outdoor marquee sign at the Boulder Theater in Colorado for the Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series on April 13, 2023 | Photo: David Rose

David Clark, founder and CEO of Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Alliance, explained that launching the Mini Global Climate Concert Series in Boulder, Colorado, an area he described as a "hotbed" for climate justice, was a very conscious choice.

"We've got amazing national labs that are coming up with cutting-edge technology, cutting-edge data, research that's shaping the climate dialogue around the world," he said at the concert.

Boulder was also the home of last year's Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Summit, which hosted experts from over 100 nations, including Mary Robinson, the former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and the President of Ireland.

The Climate Crisis Is A Human Crisis

The climate crisis already disproportionately impacts socially vulnerable groups: women, children, low-income families, and other historically marginalized communities.

"Human-caused climate change has already caused substantial and irreversible damage to ecosystems and livelihoods with disproportionate impacts on people in ongoing situations," Benjamin Schachter, UN Human Rights Team Leader for Environment and Climate Change, explained from the stage.

Schachter emphasized that countless lives have been lost due to the climate crisis already, and millions of people are displaced by climate and weather-related disasters annually.

Music Creates Powerful Connections

Photo featuring (L-R) David Clark, Harvey Mason jr., Chantel Sausedo, Benjamin Schachter

(L-R) David Clark, Harvey Mason jr., Chantel Sausedo, Benjamin Schachter | Photo: David Rose

The Recording Academy has a long history of championing change through the power of music — a point highlighted throughout the Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series.

"Music is a crucial means of [catalyzing transformative action]," Schachter said. "It constitutes a common language, a means of expression."

"Music has some special abilities," Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, explained in an impassioned speech from the stage. "It has the ability to give a voice to those that have none, to shine a light on injustices that exist in our world, and to inspire us all to take action."

Mason jr. also amplified an impactful message that reflected the theme of the night: Music is not just a means for entertainment, but a "powerful tool to galvanize social movements to speak the truth, the power to create community and to bring disparate people together for a common cause."

The World Must Band Together

Photo of Yola performing at the Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series at the Boulder Theater in Colorado on April 13, 2023

Yola performing at the Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series at the Boulder Theater in Colorado on April 13, 2023 | Photo: David Rose

Internationally acclaimed and GRAMMY-nominated guest artist Yola performed a no-frills set of raw, vocally driven songs intertwined with the mellow strum of her acoustic guitar. Many of Yola's songs spoke to her newfound strength to stand up for herself, a concept she explored on her 2021 album, Stand For Myself, and clap back at those in power — an appropriate theme that resonated throughout the environmental justice concert.

"This next one might be a little on the nose," Yola chuckled on stage as she introduced her aptly named, GRAMMY-nominated song, "Diamond Studded Shoes," and described the diamond-studded heels of a politician who was "slapping the meals out of kids' hands." The song's moving lyrics — "For the life and soul of the world we know/Fight, 'cause the promise is never gonna be enough" — and theme fully captured the message of the night: Even if things might be bad, resistance is possible and "it'll be fine if we just band together," she said.

Small Actions Lead To Impactful Change

Photo of Wesley Schultz of the Lumineers performing at the Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series at the Boulder Theater in Colorado on April 13, 2023

Wesley Schultz of the Lumineers performing at the Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series at the Boulder Theater in Colorado on April 13, 2023 | Photo: Dave Arnold

Wesley Schultz of the Lumineers took the stage to thunderous applause. Like Yola, Schultz's performance was an unedited glimpse at his raw talent: a 45-minute set composed of just his voice and an acoustic guitar.

Between songs – some of which were covers, others originals – Schultz shared stirring glimpses into his personal life, from his dad's death to a psychedelic-infused trip he had with his wife.

Schultz also shared that his wife, Brandy, is a co-founder of Sound Future, a nonprofit focused on "accelerating climate innovation for the live event industry," according to the organization's website. He explained how Sound Future used flexible solar panels and the heat of the Texas sun to power the stage at Willie Nelson's concert in Luck, Texas.

"It's a very simple idea, right? That we can turn certain things that seem really daunting into something that's very doable," Schultz reflected on the stage. "I think we can all make these little steps here and there, [combined] with the brilliant minds that people have out there, to make some innovation, to make [live shows] a little more friendly on the environment."

Learn more about the Recording Academy's and United Nations Human Rights' partnership, and stay tuned for future news and developments.

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4 Key Takeaways From The "Your Future Is Now" Scholarship Program, According To Past Scholarship Recipients

Image courtesy of the Recording Academy


4 Key Takeaways From The "Your Future Is Now" Scholarship Program, According To Past Scholarship Recipients

Past recipients of the "Your Future Is Now" scholarship, presented by the Black Music Collective and Amazon Music, reflect on what they learned from the program, which provides mentorship opportunities and grants to HBCU students and music programs.

Recording Academy/Apr 25, 2023 - 09:57 pm

Earlier this month, the Recording Academy's Black Music Collective (BMC) — together with Amazon Music relaunched the "Your Future Is Now" scholarship program for the third consecutive year.

This innovative program is designed to provide students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) the opportunity to explore all facets of the music industry by offering unique networking opportunities with revered music industry leaders.

This year, five HBCU students will be selected to take part in the program; each recipient will be awarded a $10,000 scholarship. In addition, the BMC and Amazon Music will award two HBCUs $10,000 grants each for equipment for their music programs. The scholarship program also includes an immersive rotational program with Amazon Music and Recording Academy department leads.

The deadline to apply for this year’s "Your Future Is Now" scholarship program is this Friday, April 28. Selected scholarship recipients will be announced on Monday, May 8.

To celebrate this unique, career-building opportunity, the Recording Academy is highlighting past recipients of the "Your Future Is Now" scholarship, who reflected on the lessons they learned from the program and discussed its impact on their burgeoning careers.

Amir Duke

Photo courtesy of Amir Duke.

Amir Duke

Attending HBCU: Morehouse College
Major: Economics with a minor in sales
Class of 2023

The biggest lesson that I learned during my experience in the "Your Future Is Now" scholarship program is the importance of genuine relationship building in the music business.

Being able to network with like-minded individuals and have strong relationships based on similarities and interests will take you far in the music business.

Exploring opportunities and taking your time in the music business is key to longevity. I learned not to rush my career process and to take each opportunity with grace.

Zsana Hoskins

Photo courtesy of Zsana Hoskins.

Zsana Hoskins

Attending HBCU: Howard University
Major: Journalism major with a minor in music
Class of 2024

I learned that the music industry has many layers, and there isn't one particular way to enter it.

There are so many more roles that are available to those who aspire to have a career in music outside of the cliche ones we often hear about. And the journey to a music industry career isn't linear at all.

Everyone's path is different, but the goal is achievable.

Jasmine Gordon

Photo courtesy of Jasmine Gordon.

Jasmine Gordon

Attending HBCU: Spelman College
Major: Comparative women's studies with a concentration in branding and marketing in the music industry and a minor in entrepreneurship
Class of 2025

I had the privilege of interacting with a diverse group of music industry professionals and creators who shared a valuable lesson with me.

I learned the importance of not confining oneself and placing yourself in a singular box, but instead expanding beyond one's creative boundaries and exploring different avenues.

As a young, Black creative, this perspective was particularly impactful for me as it showed me that there are no constraints to my passions within this industry.

I am now inspired to continue to break barriers and pursue my creativity with an open mind.

Jayden Potts

Photo courtesy of Jayden Potts

Jayden Potts

Attending HBCU: Jackson State University
Major: Music technology
Class of 2026

The biggest lesson I learned during my experience in the "Your Future Is Now" scholarship program is that everyone's path is completely different. Nobody has an exact path to the career they landed in.

It showed me how they persevered through every position they had and pushed forward to their goal in mind, motivating me to do the same.

Your Future Is Now: Music Industry Executives Discuss The Benefits Of Historically Black Colleges And Universities

4 Ways Pharrell Williams Has Made An Impact: Supporting The Music Industry, Amplifying Social Issues & More
Pharrell Williams speaks at the TV One Urban One Honors in December 2022.

Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Urban One Honors


4 Ways Pharrell Williams Has Made An Impact: Supporting The Music Industry, Amplifying Social Issues & More

From advocacy and activism to music education and philanthropy, trailblazing superproducer Pharrell Williams uses his global reach to enact social change and inspire the masses — which is exactly why he's a 2023 GRAMMYs On The Hill honoree.

Recording Academy/Apr 20, 2023 - 04:40 pm

Thirteen-time GRAMMY winner Pharrell Williams understands how to wield his influence for the betterment of humanity. When he's not in the studio making award-winning music, the prolific multihyphenate spends his time supporting causes like education, sustainable fashion, conservation, and human rights, and leverages his platform to make change happen — creating a blueprint for merging passions with social causes.

The visionary's philanthropic reach is awe-inspiring. Since establishing his first non-profit, From One Hand to AnOTHER, in 2008 — a six-week summer camp that offers learning programs focused on science, technology and the arts to children from low-income families — Williams has given a host of communities access to resources, tools and life-changing opportunities. He's helped build an after-school center in his hometown of Virginia Beach, offered internships to students from Harlem, New York, and launched a non-profit initiative for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs on the heels of the 2020 racial justice protests.

Ultimately, the mega-producer wants to make the world a better place for future generations, which shines through in his dedication to education, climate action and equality. By taking action to tackle these big-picture issues, Williams is showing others in his position that it's possible to do what you love and make a difference in the world.

To mark Williams' efforts and their impacts, the multihyphenate will be honored alongside U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) at this year's GRAMMYs On The Hill in Washington D.C. The annual event spotlights congressional leaders and music makers who have worked together to raise awareness and pass legislation to help ensure fair pay and equal rights for creators. 

Ahead of the event on April 26 and 27, take a look at four ways Williams has supported the music industry — and beyond. 

He Advocates For The Protection Of Creators' Rights

Williams has made a concerted effort to negotiate with labels for control of his music, and he uses his platform to help fight for equality and equity for all artists. "I shouldn't be the only one with this preferred deal," Williams said to the head of Columbia Records after negotiating a deal to own his masters in 2015. "All artists should own their intellectual property — otherwise you're just working for someone else. It's really weird: They own the fields where you and God have laid the seeds; you do the harvesting, but they have the ownership."

Williams has consistently highlighted the importance of ownership in music, and his push to usher in new protections for artists extends to the virtual world. In 2021, the music mogul joined the advisory council of CXIP DAO, a decentralized organization that allows creators to protect their copyrights and manage their digital assets.   

Read More: Everything You Need To Know About GRAMMYs On The Hill 2023: What It Is, Who It Benefits & What It Has Accomplished

He Supports And Funds Arts & Music Education Programs

Williams got his musical start as a drummer in elementary school before taking band in middle school, where he met a similarly music-minded classmate named Chad Hugo, his future production partner in the Neptunes. Along with support from his grandmother, this educational experience shaped Williams into the innovator he is today, and encouraged him to center much of his philanthropy on the arts and education as a whole.

"I want all children to have access to that kind of creative growth, access, and support. All kids, not just my own," Pharrell told Billboard in 2019. 

His actions have shown just that: In 2009, Williams' non-profit launched a Summer of Innovation camp in association with NASA. His foundation would go on to donate school supplies and offer free after-school programs and camps to kids from his hometown areas. 

In 2018, the "Happy" singer partnered with American Express Platinum for The Yellow Ball, a fundraising event at the Brooklyn Museum to benefit Young Audiences Arts for Learning. Soon after, he joined forces with Verizon to launch a tech-forward music curriculum for underserved middle schools all over the country, which provides students with access to virtual reality, 3D printers and other emerging technology. 

He Launched A Private School

Back in 2021, Williams took his education advocacy to the next level when he announced the launch of Yellowhab, a tuition-free private school for third to sixth graders from low-income families in his home state of Virginia. Always innovating, Williams's micro-school takes "a future-forward approach" to learning that includes using tech and other methods to immerse students in the educational process.   

"If the system is fixed and unfair, then it needs to be broken," Williams said in a press release.  "We don't want lockstep learning where so many kids fall behind; we want bespoke learning designed for each child, where the things that make a child different are the same things that will make a child rise up and take flight."

He Uses Fashion To Help Global Causes

The fashion influencer has created a number of clothing and accessory lines throughout his career, from the Billionaire Boys Club label to its many offshoots. He's partnered with high-profile brands to create collections that raise awareness and funding for socially conscious causes; in December 2022, his global lifestyle brand ICECREAM collabed with Mini USA for a capsule collection whose proceeds went to Polar Bears International, a non-profit that works to protect the endangered species.

But with eight million metric tons of plastic in the ocean, his sustainable denim collection with Bionic Yarns may be his most socially impactful. Over a two-year period, this collaboration converted an estimated seven million plastic bottles into clothing items.

"We are trying to infiltrate the entire spectrum of fashion, high-end and low. It's a part of sustainability and the cause is to never throw anything [plastics and trash] into the ocean again," Williams told Women's Wear Daily in 2014. "The ocean is just one part of the earth we're concentrating on, but the world is made up of 75 to 80 percent water. It's a huge place to start."

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