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First charter school gets funding from Chance the Rapper grant

Chance the Rapper holds a press conference at Westcott Elementary School in Chicago's Chatham neighborhood on March 6, 2017. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Chance the Rapper holds a press conference at Westcott Elementary School in Chicago's Chatham neighborhood on March 6, 2017. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)

For the first time since Chance the Rapper gave a $1 million check to a school in Chicago two years ago, a charter school will be a recipient of the Chicago-born rapper’s philanthropic dollars.

LEARN South Chicago, a campus of the elementary-only LEARN charter network based in South Chicago, will receive $100,000 to fund three years of computer science programming.

“The funding will be a good way to ensure that our scholars have access to engage in firsthand experience with STEM,” said David Lewis, the principal of LEARN South Chicago, referring to science and math education.

The donation comes as pressure has grown on charter schools in Chicago, with both mayoral front-runners favoring of a moratorium on their growth.

Chance, or Chancelor Bennett, isn’t the first high-profile hip-hop artist to support a local charter school — Common backed efforts to open the Art in Motion Charter School last summer, but the school has still not yet opened despite approval from the district.

Lewis said he chose to donate to LEARN not because of its charter status. SocialWorks, the rapper’s nonprofit venture, “looked at schools that have the potential to produce high-performing scholars,” he said. “And they didn’t care whether you were a district school or a charter school.”

Along with LEARN, 40 public schools also receive programming money from the New Chance Fund grant run by Social Works.

Chance has donated $4 million to school district arts programs.

LEARN South Chicago will host a family coding evening on March 14 to show parents what students will be learning in the programs funded by the grant.

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