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Grammy-award winning rap artist continues to give back

By Tariqah Shakir-Muhammad -The Final Call- | Last updated: Sep 20, 2017 - 1:55:10 PM

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Tap-dance students from a performing arts school with Chance the Rapper.

CHICAGO—Chancelor Bennett, also known as “Chance the Rapper,” announced his next move to help fund Chicago Public Schools (CPS) at the Harold Washington Cultural Center. In addition to raising over $2 million through SocialWorks, 20 schools will receive grant funds Chance raised six months ago in partnership with Ingenuity.

Social Works is a youth empowerment and funding program for elementary and high schools across Chicago that began in 2016. Within the program are initiatives such as Open Mic, a safe space for high school students to showcase their talent; Parade to the Polls which focuses on encouraging voter registration; and The Warmest Winter which donates coats to the homeless.

Chance stressed the importance of investing in students to empower the community. In addition to being the parent of a young child, the popular rapper is from Chicago and is a product of CPS.

“In the summer time when the city’s at its most beautiful point, people are supposed to be outside enjoying themselves. There’s an undercurrent of something ominous,” he told the audience at the cultural center. 

Despite his success in the music industry including being the youngest artist to receive a solo individual Grammy Award, Bennett, who is from Chicago, made it a priority to give back to the community.

Chance the Rapper

Shortly after his national tour, Chance shared that he was confronted by a young man who threatened to shoot him. In that encounter, he sensed the young man had a “chip on his shoulder” and felt undervalued as do many young people in the city, he explained.

“We wanted to give young people an act of expression, an act of engagement and obviously, an act of education,” he continued.

Westley, a staff member at SocialWorks, stated he wants to see any change in Chicago’s public-school system that will offer educational principles.

“I’m hoping for something of significance to the point where it will inspire and give hope to people that things will be different.”

Crowd lines up outside the Harold Washington Cultural Center for an opportunity to hear from award winning hip hop artist and Chicago native Chance the Rapper.
In the front row of the Harold Washington Cultural Center’s theater hall during the Sept. 1 announcement were 20 principals from neighborhood schools across Chicago who will receive funding through the initiative. SocialWorks chose these schools based on data that showed they struggled to maintain arts teachers or have not achieved arts access for every student in every grade.

“It means a lot for the arts funding, the arts programming [which is] being able to bring more into the school community, boost creativity and academics,” Evelyn Randle-Robbins, principal of Arnold Mireles Academy told The Final Call.

“To bring arts back into the building, I’m super excited,” Ali N. Muhammad, principal of Corliss Early College STEM High School stated. “Using these funds, we can get that [music program] going again.”

Also present during the program were members of Project Y.O.U., a local youth group; Harold Washington Cultural Center coordinator Jimalita Tillman; young women and girls from the Nation of Islam; officials from Ingenuity and CPS’s Children First Fund; and representatives from the Chicago Bulls.

“He’s a very good example for Black men in America for what he has done, taking his talent and turning into something positive rather than something negative,” said Ruqaya Muhammad, a youth volunteer.