By Kiana Lei Yap | Contributing Writer
As if anyone needed another reason to love Chance the Rapper, the renowned rap-artist and Chicago native donated $1 million, via a giant check, to support Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) arts enrichment programs at a press conference on Monday at Westcott Elementary School. Made possible through ticket sales for his spring tour, Chance the Rapper used the press conference time to bring awareness to the lack of funding prevalent in CPS. This generous action taken by the rapper was in response to an unfruitful meeting that he had with Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner last Wednesday, which he announced via Twitter that was supposedly to discuss the multi-million-dollar funding deficit in Chicago Public Schools.
Photos from the press conference show Chance handing over the check to a small group of absolutely elated students, who proudly raised it with shining smiles to match. However, the press conference was not without some remarks directed at Gov. Rauner where the rapper called on the governor to “Do your job!” in reference to approving increased funding for CPS. Gov. Rauner recently vetoed a bill that would have provided $215 million to fund CPS and public school teachers’ pensions. However, without the additional funding, layoffs and a shortened school year threaten these students, some of which are from at-risk communities. With this decreased funding also leading to a shortened school year and possibility of cutting unnecessary classes, these students may not have vital summer school programs that help keep many of them from trouble.
“Our kids should not be held hostage because of political position,” said Chance, a proud father and activist, to the group of students and press. This act of charity truly exemplifies the arts giving back to the community, and for him, a community that he was a product of. The artist also intended to raise awareness about the social and economic inequality that infiltrates all areas of Chicago, especially in at-risk and lower income communities.
Former First Lady and fellow Chicago South Side native Michelle Obama, commended Chance’s donation by tweeting, “Thanks @chancetherapper for giving back to the Chicago community, which gave us so much. You are an example of the power of arts education.”
The rapper’s efforts were intended to spark similar acts of generosity from other artists to give back to their communities, especially in school-provided arts programs. Common, another Chicago-born rapper, texted Chance in support of his efforts to provide for their hometown.
The lives of the kids and knowing that there are positively influential adults around them in CPS are important to Chance. Without the opportunity to expand their creative abilities, especially through school-provided classes and after-school programs, many of these kids would not be able to fulfill their whole potential. Chance lamented, “While I’m frustrated and disappointed in the governor’s inaction, that will not stop me from continuing to do all I can to support Chicago’s most valuable resource: it’s children.” The hashtag #SupportCPS has been trending on Twitter since then and a donation link to add to the CPS fund by Social Works, a local non-profit that Chance founded last year, was tweeted out by Chance for those who want to further donate. In addition to the $1 million, his non-profit will match every $100,000 raised for CPS and ten $10,000 individual donations to other Chicago elementary schools.