September 05, 2017
Rappers helping Chicago schools: More than Chance
By LISA BERTAGNOLI
On Sept. 1, Chance the Rapper announced that his nonprofit, SocialWorks, has raised $2.2 million for arts education at Chicago Public Schools. "As a parent and proud product of CPS, I'm committed to helping Chicago's children have quality learning experiences that include the arts," Chance said in the release announcing the donation. Chance might be making headlines, but he's not the only rapper helping the city's schools.
CPS students headed back to class today. Here's what they can expect from four Chicago-based rappers' foundations.
Chance the Rapper
Organization: SocialWorks Chicago, New Chance Arts & Literature Fund
What it does: "Youth empowerment" through arts, education and civic involvement; the arts and literature fund is working with nonprofit Ingenuity to identify and fund arts programs at schools most in need of them. Chance also lends his name to other nonprofit efforts, such as Chicago Beyond's Go Innovate challenge.
Reach: 22 schools to date, according to SocialWorks' website.
The money: Chance has raised $2.2 million for arts education in schools, $1 million of which he donated personally. Twenty schools will receive $100,000 over three years to fund arts programs.
Classroom attendance: Chance stopped by Paul Robeson High School in March to announce a donation from the Chicago Bulls.
CPS connection: Attended Jones College Prep High School.
Extra credit: Chance's father, Ken Bennett, is an aide to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a senior adviser to tourism group Choose Chicago.
Organization: Common Ground Foundation
What it does: Mentoring every third Saturday during the school year; service-learning projects such as volunteering at the Primo Center for Women & Children; field trips to places like Joffrey Ballet and visits to Lurie Children's Hospital; hosts an annual Youth Business & Leadership conference.
Reach: About 300 kids annually from 30 schools.
The money: The foundation's operating expenses run $350,000 annually.
Classroom attendance: Three or four times a year. Last year, Common showed up unannounced at Hirsch, Dyett and Hyde Park high schools.
CPS connection: His mother, former CPS teacher and principal Mahalia Ann Hines, serves on the Chicago Board of Education and is president of Common Ground Foundation. Common attended McDowell Elementary School.
Extra credit: He lives in Los Angeles.
Che "Rhymefest" Smith
Organization: Donda's House
What it does: Sponsors Peace on the Beach, an annual festival to celebrate the start of school; supports Teens in the Park, a free Chicago Park District event of music, games and art.
Reach: Several hundred at Peace on the Beach; several thousand at Teens in the Park.
The money: $136,626 to "provide art and music instruction to the youth of Chicago," according to its 2015 tax filing.
CPS connection: Smith's wife, Donnie, taught in CPS schools for about a decade, and Smith attended CPS schools.
Extra credit: Donda's House is named after Donda West, Kanye West's mother and the former chair of the English department at Chicago State University. She died in 2007.
Jabari "Naledge" Evans
Jabari "Naledge" Evans
Organization: Brainiac Project
What it does: Works with nonprofit Foundations of Music in exploring ways to use hip-hop composition to teach kids, particularly those with trouble learning.
Reach: Seven schools and 100 kids.
The money: Evans invested $20,000 in an Auburn Gresham recording studio that hosts after-school workshops.
Classroom attendance: Evans visits CPS schools every Friday during the school year as research for his Ph.D.
CPS connection: His 10-year-old son attended CPS grade schools until the family moved to Evanston.
Extra credit: Evans, formerly half of rap duo Kidz in the Hall, is working toward a doctorate in media, technology and society at Northwestern University.
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