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Hip hop icon Nas.
Hip hop icon Nas.

Seattle startup Koru is getting a little bit of hip hop.

Legendary rapper Nas has agreed to invest in the company and establish a special scholarship fund to support students who participate in the unique education program designed by Koru.

“I’m inspired to support Koru participants because I know how hard it can be to carve out your path and purpose in life,” Nas said in a release. “It takes conviction, hard work and the right network. The young people going through Koru are gritty, book smart and street smart. The Koru program gives them an opportunity to put those smarts to work.”

Formed last year by entrepreneur Kristen Hamilton, Koru raised $4.35 million last December from Maveron, Battery Ventures, First Round Capital and Andreessen Horowitz. The company is attempting to supercharge the careers of recent college graduates, with Hamilton citing statistics that as many as half of recent college grads are unemployed or underemployed.

It does this by placing students in real-world work environments, giving the students hands-on training and mentorship. Partner companies participating in the program include Smartsheet, REI, Julep, Zulily and others.

As part of the scholarship fund, Nas will work directly with Koru to identify deserving students.

Two of the first recipients of the Nas Scholarship Fund are Steeve Simbert, a Georgetown University class of 2015 graduate with a major in Government, and Marixa Rodriguez, an Occidental University class of 2014 graduate with a double major in History and Spanish.

Koru CEO Kristen Hamilton
Koru CEO Kristen Hamilton

The son of a New York jazz trumpeter, Nas, born Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, has sold more than 20 million albums since he came on the scene in the 1990s. His 2013 album, Life is Good, was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Rap Album category.

The $100,000 investment from Nas comes through his investment arm, Queensbridge Venture Partners. It brings total funding in Koru to $4.56 million.

Hamilton, who previously co-founded Onvia, recently spoke about the concept of Koru on the GeekWire podcast.

“The stories are pretty challenging, because here are these young, amazing talented graduates who do everything right — they get into the right colleges, they work hard and they get good grades — and then the sad part is they fall off the conveyor belt if you will at the end,” she said

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