Our Pledge To You


Chance the Rapper donates to 12 more schools; Bulls kick in $1M

Students at Westcott Elementary School listen as Chance The Rapper announces he's donating $1 million to the Chicago Public Schools foundation on March 6. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file photo

Chance the Rapper announced Friday he’s giving $10,000 to 12 more neighborhood schools under a New Chance Arts and Literature Fund that received an additional $1 million from the Chicago Bulls.

The Grammy-award winner, who dipped a toe in the stubborn politics of Illinois education funding, updated his philanthropic efforts to the cash-poor school system that educated him to $2.2 million. Last month, the rapper announced a personal $1 million donation, plus $10,000 to an individual school for every $100,000 raised.

“As a parent, and a proud CPS graduate, I’m committed to helping Chicago’s children have quality learning experiences and quality in the learning space,” Chance said, handing a giant check to students at Robeson High School in Englewood. “This effort is direct and intentional, and will affect the schools that are the most in need.”

The New Chance Fund, a partnership with CPS’ foundation and Ingenuity, will help schools yet to be named that have seen graduation rate decreases, budget cuts and have no music or arts programs starting next fall, Chance said.

Ingenuity, an established arts organization that organizes and tracks arts education at CPS, will volunteer its expertise and collect data to help make recommendations and “make sure the funds that Chance has raised get pushed to the schools in greatest need,” director Paul Sznewajs said.

Bulls spokeswoman Susan Goodenow said, “after hearing Chance’s passion for the project and dedication to supporting Chicago students, it was an easy decision for the Bulls to lend our support.”

Chicago’s Board of Education is facing a $215 million budget gap, which is largely the result of its need to finance teacher pensions. Gov. Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have been sparring about various solutions to plug the deficit with more funding from the state.

Chance said a meeting he had last month with Rauner about CPS funding left him “frustrated.” Within days, he announced the first $1 million in donations from his non-profit foundation, SocialWorks, to CPS’ foundation known as the Children First Fund.

At Robeson, Chance was asked if he had spoken to Rauner since Chance announced his major donation.

“Noooo, nope,” he said. “This is a philanthropic effort and a charitable effort,” he said, hinting that he was done with politics.

Chance, whose given name is Chancelor Bennett, is a graduate of Jones College Prep High School.

So far, the 22 schools he’s selected for individual donations – Robeson included – are all open-enrollment neighborhood schools whose students are predominantly African American and low income.

The 12 latest schools that will each receive $10,o00 checks are:

  • Crane High School
  • Julian High School
  • Armour Elementary School
  • Revere Elementary School
  • Harlan High School
  • Gage Park High School
  • Solario Academy High School
  • Azuela Elementary School
  • Clark High School
  • Hyde Park High School
  • Steinmetz High School
  • Powell Elementary School

The schools may use the money immediately to fund new programs or reinstate ones that had to be cut this winter when CPS imposed a freeze on principals’ remaining discretionary money.

Robeson Principal Melanie Beatty-Sevier spent her share on three arts projects for her 170 students:

  • a project where students study the hit musical, Hamilton, then go see it downtown,
  • an organization that will help students build a mosaic tile mural on the school building,
  • curriculum that teaches students about music recording, then walks them through recording their own tracks in a sound studio.

“We’re going to use every dime of it to help the kids and expose them to some different experiences that they wouldn’t have had,” she said.