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Rapper Pitbull Launches Tuition-Free Charter School in Arizona

The charter school network approaches learning with a student-centric educational experience


Grammy award-winning rapper and singer Pitbull is opening a tuition-free charter school in Mesa, Arizona.

The school is part of his SLAM! Foundation network, which, according to its website, is a non-profit educational organization representing 14 public charter schools across campuses serving students in Florida, Nevada, and starting this fall Arizona.

SLAM! stands for Sports Leadership, Arts & Management and its Arizona kindergarten through 5th grade program features:

  • Character education and mindfulness programs
  • Computer science, music and visual arts
  • Extracurricular clubs, activities and athletic programs
  • Career exploration and mentorship programs
  • Gifted Program and Advanced coursework
  • Real-world learning experiences and mentorships sponsored by local and national partners in both sports and STEM-related industries.

“They learn all the normal subjects: math, history, science,” Shannon Beem, the school’s principal, told a local Fox news affiliate. “Then, when they get up into middle school, they will explore the wheel, and it includes sports media, sports marketing, and sports medicine, and get to decide what they want to hit in high school to get their certification.”

Pitbull, whose real name is Armando Christian Perez, was born in Miami, Florida, to Cuban immigrant parents. His family escaped communism under the regime of Fidel Castro. His philanthropy and activism is built around a message of freedom.

“My family comes from communism. They fled communism. They had everything taken away from them. Everybody got murdered. Everybody got killed,” he recently stated in a feature on Revolt TV. “That’s the reason me, being a first-generation Cuban American, I look at freedom and I appreciate that…I appreciate the opportunity. That comes from the fact that Castro took over everything.”

Pitbull’s network of charter schools outperformed district and state schools in high school graduation rates between 2017 – 2020.

According to their website, in 2019, 96 percent of SLAM! graduates attended a college or university. They were also one of the highest ranking high schools in Florida for the state’s education accountability system.

A unique feature of this charter school is that it eliminates the traditional top-down structure of education and instead makes the student the center of all decisions. 

“Sometimes what happens is that education is no longer sexy,” Pitbull said in an interview when his first school launched in 2013. “It’s no longer cool. I want to tell them or help put together either curriculum or schools where it does entertain them or engage them. One way or another, I want to just make it fun again to learn.”

With an already-established record of success, SLAM! will join a thriving community of successful alternative schools in Arizona, where eight of the top 10 schools are charter schools.

Classes for the SLAM! Arizona charter school are slated to begin Aug. 4.

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