Amid a slew of shout-outs to family, friends and supportive team members, Chance The Rapper's acceptance speech for Best New Artist at the 59th GRAMMY Awards was punctuated by a memorable statement of gratitude for the city that raised him. Met with immediate cheers and applause, the heartfelt thank you to "all of Chicago" doubled as a subtle unifying statement in the face of the city's storied regional divisions.
Chance The Rapper has a commendable track record as a public champion for his hometown. In the past year he was named a member of the Board of Trustees for the city's DuSable Museum of African American History, he met personally with Gov. Bruce Rauner to discuss potential avenues for improvement in the Chicago Public School system, and he launched a major music festival on the South Side.
On March 6, during a widely publicized press conference, Chance The Rapper unveiled his latest effort to bolster Chicago. The rapper announced the donation of $1 million to Chicago Public Schools Foundation to help enrich local arts and educational programs. In addition, Chance will make individual gifts of $10,000 directly to select schools, including Westcott Elementary School, located in his former neighborhood of West Chatham. Furthermore, SocialWorks, a nonprofit group co-founded by the GRAMMY winner, will match every $100,000 raised with an additional $10,000.
Chance The Rapper's generous donation is one of the more recent philanthropic pledges in support of music education from GRAMMY-winning artists.
Metallica recently announced the launch of the All Within My Hands Foundation in conjunction with their upcoming North American tour. With the aim to "give back and share some of our good fortune," the foundation will donate a portion of funds raised from each night of their tour to select music education programs.
In another gesture of support, rock legend Eddie Van Halen announced in February the donation of 75 of his signature guitars to public schools in partnership with Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation, a program that provides students with refurbished instruments and access to music education.
"Could you imagine a world without music?" Van Halen pondered during an interview with CNN. "It's a must. … It has to be taught."
These like-minded efforts all speak to the collective importance of protecting and celebrating music education in our nation's schools, an effort The Recording Academy champions year-round through programs such as GRAMMY Camp and recognitions such as the Music Educator Award. They also underline a key call to action expressed by Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow during his 59th GRAMMY telecast remarks.
"The Recording Academy, together with America's music makers, call on the president and Congress to help keep the music playing by updating music laws, protecting music education and renewing America's commitment to the arts," said Portnow.