Three Chicago high school students wrote a heartfelt open letter to Chance the Rapper thanking him for his service to the community and praising him for being an inspiration.
The letter, which was published by Billboard on Wednesday, was written by Alex Rojas, Alondra Cerros and Annelisse Betancourt, all of whom attend Lake View High School. The students expressed their gratitude for the rapper’s $1 million donation to Chicago Public Schools earlier this month, thanking him for financially supporting a school system that has been plagued with issues.
“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,” the students wrote. “This is only one of the many things that you have done to improve our Chicago.”
The students say that the great work Chance is doing doesn’t go unnoticed. They go on to explain exactly why he means so much to them, highlighting his humility and empathy for young people of color.
“You’re more than just an artist to us, you are a way of life." Alex Rojas, Alondra Cerros and Annelisse Betancourt
“We thank you for supporting Chicago’s minority youth when not many others have put time to think about the kids,” they wrote. “As minority students we feel ignored and as though we don’t have enough support from bigger influences like you.”
“You’re more than just an artist to us, you are a way of life,” they added. “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.”
In one particularly sobering part of the letter, the students write about the difficulty of growing up in Chicago and cite statistics about the city’s frighteningly high levels of gun violence. They acknowledged Chance’s past efforts to help cut down crime in the city and thanked him for “not forgetting where you came from and helping the city of Chicago in more ways than just being an inspirational rapper.”
“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,” the students wrote. “You and your music have taught us that you can be true to yourself and still be successful, still be self-made.”
Chance wrote a response to the letter Wednesday, expressing his appreciation and sharing some more good news:
To read the full letter, head to Billboard.