Amid Chicago Public Schools’ crushing budget deficit (to the tune of over $200 million), one person is putting his money where his mouth is.
That person is Chance The Rapper (recent recipient of a host of Grammy wins), also known as Chancellor Bennett—a native Chicagoan, and recent donor of a cool $1 million dollars to help the struggling public school system.
Chance, who grew up on the city’s South Side, presented the $1 million in the form of a massive, Happy Gilmore-sized check. The money will come from ticket sales for an upcoming tour and will go to Chicago Public Schools’ fundraising arm. He also promised a series of $10,000 donations to 10 individual schools in the city.
Chance’s announcement came shortly after Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner proposed two different options to close the $215 million gap that CPS faces. The rapper was critical of Rauner’s perceived inactions, and said so bluntly in a press conference.
“Governor Rauner still won’t commit to give Chicago’s kids a chance without caveats or ultimatums,” Chance told students and reporters at Westcott Elementary School. “Governor Rauner, do your job.”
Illinois has been locked in a budget battle since Rauner took office, and Chicago Public Schools have felt the strain on an already strained budget. Last week, CPS announced that if the state or courts can’t move forward, they will plan to cut three weeks off of the school year and scale down summer school to save about $96 million.
“This isn’t about politics, this isn’t about posturing. This is about taking care of the kids. 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,” Chance said.
At Westcott Elementary School, where the press conference took place, budget cuts are threatening after-school programs, math and reading tutoring, and professional development programs. Westcott will be the recipient of one of the $10,000 donations to select public schools, bringing their total loss down from over $96,000 to $75,000.
“As a private citizen, a parent, and a product of CPS, I’m asking you to fight with me,” Chance said.