Superstar Nicki Minaj Surprises Students as "Principal for the Day" at Collins Academy High School in Chicago

Nicki Minaj Joins the Get Schooled Foundation and Comcast to Reward $30,000 in College Scholarships and to Recognize Collins Academy for Winning a National Attendance Challenge

NEW YORK, May 19, 2011 -- Superstar Nicki Minaj surprised more than 400 students and acted as the "Principal for the Day" at Collins Academy High School.  Minaj's visit is one of many rewards for the students and teachers who won the Get MotivatED Challenge – a six week competition to improve daily attendance rates nationwide. Twenty-five schools in eleven cities vied for the title in the Challenge that used pop culture, technology and media to engage youth on the importance of coming to school.  

Minaj presented three exemplary students each with $10,000 college scholarships from Comcast, helped teach a freshman English class, and joined MTV's Sway Calloway in an all-school assembly to celebrate the students' and teachers' accomplishments.  Students saw the performer's serious side as she took over the class and led a lesson in English. Minaj's own education, she's a graduate of LaGuardia High School in New York City, influenced not just her career path but also her commitment to giving back.

Nicki Minaj said, "I am a young, female mogul before I am an artist. As a business woman there isn't a single day where I don't use my education or acquire new knowledge to ensure my success. Regardless of where you are today, with education you can take yourself where you want to be. That's why I am working with the Get Schooled Foundation. They are finding innovative and exciting ways to bring that message to schools like the Collins Academy."

Studies show that rate of attendance is one of the most significant predictors of dropping out.  Students with more than 20 absences in any given year have only a 19 percent likelihood of graduating. According to the 2010 Diploma Counts report, only 55 percent of Chicago students graduate from high school on time. Throughout the six week competition, students and teachers at Collins Academy worked together and improved daily attendance by 7 percent.  Since the competition ended, Collins Academy has maintained a 92 percent attendance rate, positioning the school among the top of all Chicago's high schools in terms of attendance.

"Collins Academy students and staff put everything into this attendance challenge," said Collins Academy Principal Andre Cowling. "We tell students that they own their future and that education is their pathway to success. Winning this challenge is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our students and staff – and that work continues every day."

The three Collins Academy students who each received $10,000 college scholarships are Amanda Chaney, Rachael Pillot, and Japone Johnson.

In recognizing these students, Comcast Vice President of Community Investment for Comcast Corporation and Executive Vice President of the Comcast Foundation Charisse R. Lillie said, "Comcast seeks to support organizations that inspire young people to lead, and the Get MotivatED Challenge encourages them to do just that.  We are thrilled to present these scholarships to these outstanding students at Collins Academy and bring them one step closer to achieving their educational goals."

"The Get MotivatED Challenge proved that with focus, support and incentives, schools can increase student engagement and high school attendance rates," said Marie Groark, Executive Director of the Get Schooled Foundation. "Collins Academy staff and students demonstrated tremendous commitment to changing their data and the 7 percent attendance gain is a testament to their hard work."

In addition to the $30,000 scholarships from Comcast to the three Collins Academy students, twelve students at four other competing schools including Burke HS (Boston), Lincoln HS (Philadelphia), McGavock HS (Nashville) and Orr Academy HS (Chicago) are each receiving $1,000 scholarships from Comcast as a reward for their leadership and for going above and beyond to motivate their peers throughout the competition.  

Schools that actively participated in the Challenge saw an average increase in attendance of 2.01 percent. As a whole, the Challenge motivated an additional 90 students to come to school – students who otherwise might not have found the motivation.

During the national competition, students in participating schools recognized teachers as one of the most important motivators, submitting 3000 nominations for more than 550 inspiring teachers.  Click here to view. Students also submitted and voted on homemade original videos about the importance of education through the Def Jam Rapstar video contest.  The contest received more than 100 entries. The winning entrant is being flown to New York to perform live on BET's 106 & Park.  Click here to view.

These activities drove more than 280,000 people to engage in at least one element of the Get MotivatED Challenge.

The Get MotivatED Challenge is supported by AT&T, Comcast, Def Jam Rapstar, the Get Schooled Foundation and Viacom.

Notes to Editors

Images and broadcast quality footage from today's event is available at

About Get Schooled

Get Schooled is a non-profit organization dedicated to using the power of media and popular culture to motivate and inspire young people, their families and teachers to improve high school graduation rates and college-going rates. Its success stems from strong partnerships with Viacom, AT&T, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and many other similarly focused companies, organizations and individuals. To find out more, visit

About Philanthropy at AT&T

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its philanthropic initiatives, AT&T has a long history of supporting projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; and address community needs. In 2010, more than $148.2 million was contributed through corporate-, employee- and AT&T Foundation-giving programs.

About Comcast Corporation

Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) ( is one of the world's leading media, entertainment and communications companies. Comcast is principally involved in the operation of cable systems through Comcast Cable and in the development, production and distribution of entertainment, news, sports and other content for global audiences through NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential and business customers. Comcast is the majority owner and manager of NBCUniversal, which owns and operates entertainment and news cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, local television station groups, television production operations, a major motion picture company and theme parks.

SOURCE The Get Schooled Foundation


May 19, 2011 1:05pm ET by Pressparty   Comments (0)

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