When governments make budget cuts, all too often it is schools and their creative programs that pay the price. Such is the case in Chicago, where many elementary schools are without any music programs, which is a crying shame considering music education has been found to benefit a child’s memory, language capabilities, and many other things.
Fortunately for Chicago, a local artist has stepped in to bring the music back. Chance the Rapper, a famous hip-hop artist who grew up in the city, created a nonprofit called New Chance that has raised $4.2 million to bring creative programs such as music and dance back to 40 Chicago public schools, impacting almost 7,000 students.
Chance the Rapper’s charity has targeted schools in need. To be eligible for the grant, Chicago public schools have to be low performing academically and also lacking an arts program—and must have an action plan for how they intend to spend the money. The main requirements are that the school needs to provide arts education, remain impactful after the three-year period, and be, first and foremost, for the students.
Aldridge Elementary was one recipient of the New Chance: Arts & Literature Fund, a three-year, $100,000 grant to establish programs that aim to enrich students’ education well beyond those three years. The school used the grant to purchase instruments, a concrete investment that can provide years of use. Now, the 200 students that attend the school can all get their hands on an instrument.
For students and parents in Chicago’s more impoverished areas, New Chance is providing something rare: opportunity. The city has a wealth of resources and programs, but they are inaccessible, or difficult to access, for broad swaths of the population. Chance the Rapper’s charity is meant to rectify that inequality, giving students in the poorest performing Chicago public schools the benefits that arts provide.