School is about to begin next week for many kids across the country, and a group of Chicago public schools will be starting the new year in style thanks to a $2.2 million donation from Chance the Rapper’s SocialWorks. Speaking at Chicago’s Harold Washington Cultural Center (and dressed in his best Steve Jobs getup) on Friday, Chance announced plans to donate to 20 schools across the Chi, giving each $100,000 over the next three years to help revamp underfunded arts programs.
Chance said the schools were chosen by looking at institutes that lacked funding for arts teachers and were hurt by recent budget cuts. SocialWorks worked with the principal of each school to ensure that the assistance they receive is specific to their school’s needs and vision. CPS and SocialWorks are also going to work together to track the results of each program and the showcase positive results of teaching the Arts in the schools.
Chance’s young daughter will be entering the Chicago Public School system soon, and he said that’s something that has pushed CPS’s ills even further to forefront of his mind. “These are the two most pressing things on my mind,” he told the crowd, “The thought of finally sending my daughter to school, and the unease of the city she’s entering into.”
Illustrating his point about the unease plaguing his hometown, Chance told the crowd he has been threatened with gun violence twice since returning from tour just a month ago. “Twice, just in the last month that I’ve been back, I’ve had someone tell me that they were going to shoot me,” Chance said. “This is obviously just talk; both were small altercations and I could tell immediately upon point of contact that these young people had a chip on their shoulder. That they felt undervalued or cheated.” It’s hard for me to understand how someone could threaten Chance the Rapper anywhere on Earth, but in Chicago? Come on y’all.
Chance and SocialWorks certainly deserve a large amount of praise for their efforts, and as President Trump’s stupefying plans to cut funding for the arts begin to take shape, the onus for offsetting those horrific plans will fall more and more on private citizens. As Chance himself once rapped: “Don’t believe in the king—believe in the kingdom.”
The massive donation comes of the heels of Chance’s many other Chicago-centric charitable efforts, including providing backpacks filled with school supplies for 30,000 students.
One wonders if Chance could become the first rapper to hold public office one day, and I can think of at least one former president and first lady who’d be down with such a decision. Celebrate Chicago by revisiting Jamila Woods’ Chance-featuring video for “LSD” below.