The XQ Yearbook, launched by XQ Institute, is a digital yearbook made of student-submitted portraits from across the country

By Rachel DeSantis
June 09, 2021 12:00 PM
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Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez
| Credit: Tibrina Hobson/Getty

High school seniors getting their diplomas this year didn't reach graduation day without a few trials and tribulations - but they're all in it together, as a new project backed by famous faces like Selena Gomez and Taraji P. Henson is helping them prove.

Along with Charlize Theron and J Balvin, the stars are helping launch the XQ Yearbook, a digital collection of student-submitted portraits meant to engage and unite high schoolers across the country in the name of mental health.

For each submission uploaded to the digital yearbook, the XQ Institute will donate $2 to a national coalition of mental health organizations serving youth (matching up to $1 million) as a way of acknowledging the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken upon students and young people.

"There is nothing more important to me than reducing stigma around mental health issues in the Black community, especially among young people," Henson tells PEOPLE. "I recently launched The Unspoken Curriculum with the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation that focuses on Black students and their mental health. The XQ Yearbook is such a fun way to bring together the high school class of 2021 while raising money for youth serving mental health organizations."

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Last year, Gomez launched the Rare Impact Fund to help expand mental health education and services in schools, with a focus on underserved communities. And last month, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, she kicked off the Mental Health 101 Campaign to advocate and raise funds for more mental health services in schools.

XQ Institute, founded by Laurene Powell Jobs and Russlynn Ali, is an organization dedicated to "rethinking the high school experience" to better equip graduates for the real world.

Its yearbook project was launched in partnership with the French artist JR, who has been displaying large-scale black-and-white portraits in public places since 2011 as part of his Inside Out Project. Over the last decade, more than 400,000 people have participated to make statements on everything feminism and racism to climate change.

The yearbook will live online with submissions from all over the country, which users can search by school, state, or graduating class, or find by browsing through a virtual map.

Each submission features a black-and-white portrait of a student, their graduating class, information on where they go to school and a student-submitted quote or comment.

The project comes one year after XQ Institute held the Graduate Together television special, which featured famous faces like LeBron James, Barack Obama, Megan Rapinoe and Dua Lipa.