After a disappointing meeting with the city's major, the Grammy Award winner takes matters into his own hands to support arts education. Can his call to action help save Chicago's ailing schools?
Grammy Award winner Chance the Rapper made a generous donation of $1 million to save Chicago's schools.
Chance the Rapper shone the spotlight on a long-running rift in school funding in the third most populous US city. As Chicago warned that its public schools could shut down three weeks early due to a gap of more than $200 million (189 million euros) in funding, the 23-year-old artist pledged $1 million to support arts programming.
The rapper, who is best known for his album "Coloring Book," won three Grammys last month, including the prestigious Best New Artist award. He also attended public school in Chicago.
"This isn't about politics, this isn't about posturing, this is about taking care of the kids," he said during a news conference at an elementary school that he streamed to his millions of social media followers.
He called on companies and corporations to follow suit, saying his donation was "a call to action." He also promised that his group Social Works Chicago would match every donation of $100,000 with another $10,000.
However, he stressed that his aim was not to replace state funding with private donations.
The move attracted the attention of former first lady Michelle Obama, who took to twitter praising the rapper's actions.
Chance, whose real name is Chancelor Bennett, met last week with the Republican Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, to discuss the school funding dispute.
While Rauner's office called the meeting a "good exchange of views,” Bennett left after just 40 minutes saying he felt "flustered" over the "vague answers" he received.
"That went a little different than it should have," he told reporters. "I'm here because I just want people to do their jobs."
Last year, Rauner vetoed a funding plan for the schools in a dispute with the legislature. He is pushing for the school district to reform ballooning pension costs and fix what he calls longtime mismanagement.
The artist has been civically involved before, leading a rally to the polls ahead of the November election.
He also hails from a family with a history in political involvement. His father, Ken Bennett, served as a deputy assistant to former President Barack Obama and has worked for Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration. His mother, Lisa Bennett, previously worked for Illinois' attorney general.
sh/eg (AP, AFP)