Chance the Rapper pledged to donate $1 million to Chicago Public Schools on Monday and urged others to donate to the school system.
The donation came after the Grammy-winning musician met with Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner about funding Chicago public schools and left frustrated by the governor’s “vague” answers.
Chicago public schools officials have said that they will be forced to make drastic cuts—including possibly ending the school year early and cutting some summer school programs—if they do no get significant financial assistance from the state. The district has already frozen discretionary funds to school principals and implemented furlough days to save money.
The district had been counting on $215 million in state assistance in a large part to help with its pension obligations, but Gov. Rauner vetoed a bill that would have provided the funds in December. Rauner’s office has said that the money was supposed to be part of a larger state pension overhaul.
Since then, the district has sued the state, Rauner, and the state Board of Education alleging that the way the state funds its schools discriminates against Chicago’s predominantly Hispanic and black students.
Chance, whose real name is Chancelor Bennett, attended the city’s public schools.
In a live stream of the press conference on Monday, Chance urged private businesses to donate to the schools. He pledged to give $10,000 for every $100,000 donated to support arts programs.
“The check that I donated is a call to action,” he said. “I’m challenging major companies and corporations in Chicago and all across the U.S. to donate and to take action.”
Since Rauner’s meeting with the rapper, the governor’s office has floated two proposals to help the city’s schools. He called for adding the district’s requests to pension discussions in Springfield, the state capitol. He also proposed enacting legislation that would allow the city to transfer $215 million in TIF funds (Tax Increment Financing—a special financing tax to promote economic development) to the school district this year and making changes to the TIF program to allow the city to use TIF funds for education in the future.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.