chicago public school students

An Open Letter to Chance the Rapper From Chicago Students: 'You're More Than Just an Artist to Us, You Are a Way of Life'

Grammy-winning artist Chance the Rapper donated a million dollars to Chicago Public Schools on March 6, following major funding and budget cuts for public schools in the city – giving students a chance to reach their fullest academic potential, while at the same time inspiring a generation of kids who are watching their music idol’s every move.

As a product of CPS, stressing that our schools need funding more than ever is extremely crucial, and while violence is frighteningly high in Chicago, kids need more creative outlets and doors opened, not shut.

In an open letter to Chance the Rapper, three Hispanic CPS 10th graders from Lake View High School thank the rapper for his continuous support of Chicago students. 

First and foremost, we as Chicago Public School students would like to thank you for the supportive donation to our schools. As we all know, CPS has been struggling financially, and your donation has really given us a push to get to where we need to be and possibly motivate others to give back to the community as well. This is only one of the many things that you have done to improve our Chicago.

After you gave CPS the push that was needed to help give us students what we deserve, you encouraged other celebrities such as Derrick Rose to do so as well. If this goes on, CPS could be saved and our schools could receive the best educational experience we are worthy of. You are one of the reasons this can be made possible.

All of the things that you do for our city never go unnoticed. All of the free concerts you host and all the time you spend here in the city really show you care. We notice it. We look up to you because the fame usually takes humility away from artists, but it hasn’t changed you.

There are many big celebrities from Chicago, but you are one of the few that really give back. It is evident that you sincerely care for the youth here. This is why you are an inspiration to us. We appreciate you for not only representing us through your music, but also through your actions.

In Chicago, a person is shot every 2 hours and 48 minutes. A person is murdered every 14 hours and 27 minutes, and you helped stop gun violence in Chicago for 42 hours with the help of your Twitter account and various Chicago radio stations. Even though this was three years ago, the fact you had such a tremendous impact on Chicago shows how much the people of this city look up to you.

You’re more than just an artist to us, you are a way of life. You make music that we can relate to on many levels, because you know what living in Chicago is like, and you want to make changes in the city. We may not be from the same side but we come from the same city. We just want to thank you for not forgetting where you came from and helping the city of Chicago in more ways than just being an inspirational rapper. You’re using your fame for good and not just to look good. You gave $1 million dollars of your personal money to Chicago schools and that’s something no one has done for us.

We thank you for supporting Chicago’s minority youth when not many others have put time to think about the kids. As minority students we feel ignored and as though we don’t have enough support from bigger influences like you. Being born and raised in Chicago is not easy at all. There are so many stereotypes and restrictions we have as teenagers due to the frequent violence and crimes. Your music puts some at ease because we know that someone cares and someone has experienced these daily struggles too. You and your music have taught us that you can be true to yourself and still be successful, still be self-made.

Once again, thank you for aiding us and giving something back to the city we know and love, Chicago. 

Sincerely,

Alex Rojas, Alondra Cerros, and Annelisse Betancourt

Lake View High School Students

Chicago, Illinois

Ask yourself this question: Were you aware of inequality growing up?

Your answer may depend in part on where you went to high school. Students at racially diverse schools, particularly black and Hispanic students, are more tuned in to injustice than students going to school mostly with kids that look like them.

That’s one of the main threads of a new book by Carla Shedd, an assistant professor of sociology and African-American studies at Columbia University. In Unequal City: Race, Schools, and Perceptions of Injustice, Shedd goes straight to the source: the students at four Chicago public high schools.

Your School Shapes How You Think About Inequality

Illustration: LA Johnson/NPR

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Chicago high school students are fighting back against horrible school lunches

In November, Chicago Public School students said enough is enough and started a petition calling for an end to low-quality, unhealthy school food. With inspiration from their civics class, the students launched the School Lunch Project and built a website outlining their grievances and proposing solutions.