When he’s not receiving Grammy nominations or handing out unreleased Jordan sneakers to high schoolers, Chance the Rapper has been busy working to expand educational access in his hometown of Chicago.
On Wednesday, Chance announced that he was partnering with Google’s charitable arm, Google.org, to support computer science education in the Chicago Public School (CPS) system. Google donated $1 million to Chance’s nonprofit, SocialWorks, as well as $500,000 to CPS, USA Today reports.
The announcement comes as part of the rapper’s surprise visit to the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Academy, where students had gathered for a coding activity.
“There’s so much talent and creativity in the communities that these schools serve — and Chance The Rapper embodies what can happen when that creativity is unleashed," Google.org principal Justin Steele said at the event. "With exposure to computer science, students can use technology to turn their creative passions — whether that’s art, writing, music or something else — into something bigger."
According to a Google.org press release, the money will go toward SocialWorks, which brings together arts, math, science, and technology for students of color, and the Chicago Public Schools’ Computer Science for All program, which helps train teachers in computer science methods.
“The grant will help teachers implement computer science and arts curriculum in their classroom,” the press release reads.
Last February, CPS became the first school system in the nation to include computer science classes in its graduation requirement — beginning with the class of 2020. Nearly nine in 10 CPS students are students of color, with about 37% African-American and 47% Hispanic.
Studies have shown that students of color are less likely than their white counterparts to have access to computer science classes, which has contributed to a persistent “diversity gap.”
A recent New York Times op-ed lamented the thousands of so-called “lost Einsteins,” or individuals who “could have had highly impactful innovations if they had been able to pursue the opportunities they deserved.”
This was not the first time Chance has leveraged his role as a public figure to fight for education. In 2017 alone, he made a personal donation of $1,000,000 to CPS, stuffed 30,000 backpacks with school supplies, and even dressed up like Steve Jobs to announce a new education award.
He’s joined by other celebrities who are on the front line of the fight to expand education to all children, both inside and out of the United States, including singer and Global Citizen Rihanna, basketball star LeBron James, and rapper Lil Jon.
Perhaps, with a nudge from Chance, the US will begin to right the ship when it comes to math and science skills, which now lag far behind other developed countries. Currently, the country is ranked 30th out 35 developed countries in math and 19th in science.
Here’s to hoping that the initiative goes off with “zero problems, big fella!”