Chance the Rapper has announced a donation of $1m to fund public schools in Chicago, a move that prompted Michelle Obama to say to him: “You are an example of the power of arts education.”
Chance’s donation came days after he met the Republican governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, to discuss the financial problems facing the third-largest school district in the US. The city is facing a shortfall in its school budget after Rauner vetoed a bill delegating $215m in pension relief to Chicago Public Schools (CPS), insisting it had to be tied to pension reform instead.
At a press conference at Westcott Elementary School in the West Chatham neighborhood of Chicago, where Chance grew up, the rapper said of his meeting: “The governor gave me a lot of vague answers and since has called me over the weekend.” He said: “Our talks were unsuccessful. Governor Rauner still won’t commit to giving Chicago’s kids a chance without caveats or ultimatums.”
He said the governor’s veto was causing children to suffer and insisted: “Our kids should not be held hostage because of political positioning.”
The results of the veto on the funding could be staff layoffs or, Chance said, cutting the school year short by 13 days. “This means over 380,000 kids will not have adult-supervised activities in June and could possibly be put in harm’s way,” he said.
Chance said his donation was made possible thanks to ticket sales for his forthcoming US tour, and efforts by promoters across the country, who he said “were able to band together to use funds from ticket sales to donate to CPS”.
He said: “This isn’t about politics. This isn’t about posturing. Everybody and [their] momma knows about what’s going on in Chicago. It’s constantly talked about. But we’re about to enhance the conversation. As a private citizen, as a parent and as a product of CPS, I’m asking that you guys join and fight with me, organise with me, mobilize with me, for the interest of the children of Chicago. This is the very beginning.”