Creating a Path for Others: DJ Cuppy (MA ’16) on Her Scholarship Program for African Students with Disabilities

Cuppy celebrates her foundation with her beneficiaries.

D.J. Cuppy (MA ’16), (Florence Ifeoluwa Otedola), is a world-famous entertainer and a graduate of NYU Steinhardt’s Music Business Program.  A music producer and songwriter, she released her first compilation, House of Cuppy (2014), pioneering a fresh new sound she called Neo-Afrobeats. A year later, Cuppy followed her album’s success with an eight-country tour, Cuppy Takes Africa, now a TV show on FOX.

While earning her master’s degree at NYU Steinhardt, Cuppy starred as the resident DJ on MTV’s Uncommon Sense.  In 2017, in recognition of her musical gifts and outstanding business acumen, Cuppy was honored with NYU Steinhardt’s Alumni Artistic Achievement Award.  We asked her about her new foundation which gives a free college education to African high school students with disabilities.

Why did you launch the Cuppy Foundation?

The Cuppy Foundation is an organization that was created out of pure passion. I have always felt that I’ve been able to live my dreams because someone gave me a chance. With that said, I also feel the need to provide a chance to others.

My education has allowed me to become a young, confident woman ready to conquer the world! I believe that knowledge is power, and the Cuppy Foundation is there to provide those most vulnerable in African societies with access to education so that they, too, can live their dreams.

 What is it like to run a foundation?

Being able to share my dreams and vision for the Cuppy Foundation with the world has been amazing!  Surprisingly, I’ve had overwhelming support — and several keen to get involved — which really excites me. I feel so empowered and proud that I’ve been able to launch it by putting ten beneficiaries with disabilities through University of Lagos. Hoping for many, many, many more students to come!

What else are you proud of?

Apart from formally launching the foundation, I was also able to throw a party for my beneficiaries which was such a fulfilling experience. It’s not just about providing them with access to education, but also mentoring and inspiring them. I’m so proud that I have one-on-one relationships which each and every one of them. I’m looking forward to watching them blossom.

Cuppy receives NYU Steinhardt’s Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.  (With her father, Femi Otedola.)

What advice do you have for someone who wants to be a changemaker?

Change must always come from within. That’s one thing I’ve learned…It took my growing up and gaining success to realize what really matters and what really fulfils me. I thought what mattered was being the biggest or the best, but it’s really what you are able to leave behind. I want to be known as someone who broke the rules and created a path for others. That’s what the Cuppy Foundation is all about.