Google and Chance the Rapper’s non-profit organization SocialWorks have joined forces to bring computer science education to Chicago Public Schools (CPS). SocialWorks is the non-profit started last year by Chance the Rapper, Justin Cunningham, and Essence Smith—native Chicagoans and CPS alumni—to benefit the Chicago Public Schools arts programs that encouraged and supported them. Celebrating the power of creativity and code, Google.org announced a $1 million grant to SocialWorks during a student event at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Paideia Academy on Wednesday, December 6. $500,000 was also granted directly to Chicago Public Schools--the first school district in the country to mandate Computer Science education for every student--through CPS’ CS4All initiative.
Chance the Rapper made a surprise appearance during an assembly with the school’s students that also featured remarks from Cunningham, Alphabet Senior Vice President of Corporate Development David Drummond, and music industry vet and philanthropist Steve Stoute. The assembly also featured music from Power 92’s DJ Pharris and food from Nando’s, the Chicago casual dining chain with a history of supporting public schools and community non-profits when they open new restaurants. At the end of the event, students received new backpacks from STATEand gear emblazoned with “CODER,” forecasting the future possibilities for the students. The assembly was preceded by a Google CS First Roadshow for select 5th grade students, a Google program developed to introduce computer science to students through their interests.
“Our partnership with Google.org helps SocialWorks provide programming that sheds light on another pathway to success for young Chicagoans,” says SocialWorks Executive Director Justin Cunningham. “While every student doesn't need to become a computer scientist, understanding the basics empowers them to understand the world they live in. The opportunity to help kids code to share their music, artwork, and distinct point of view is at the core of our mission and an experience we look forward to providing in classrooms across the city.”
The grant was announced during Google’s Computer Science Education Week--an annual celebration to inspire students and educators to get excited about computer science and where it can take them. Google also supports computer science education all year round including donating more than $40M in grants to nonprofits like 4-H and the Hidden Genius Project, and building programs like Made with Code, their initiative to inspire teen girls to see coding as a means to pursue their dreams.
“We’re honored to support SocialWorks’ mission to help underrepresented students in Chicago reach their full potential, as well as Chicago Public Schools’ efforts to turn computer science into a pathway for creative expression,” adds Justin Steele, Google.org Principal leading their work in local communities. “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. 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.”
Steve Stoute, a supporter of SocialWorks, encouraged both groups to partner on #SupportCPS following Chance’s March announcement of the initiative. “Chance the Rapper has never forgotten about his neighborhood and the people that got him where he is today, and SocialWorks is an extension of that,” noted Stoute. “SocialWorks and Google.org are natural allies in their mission to affect change. I’m excited to see what these teams will do to impact the lives of Chicago Public School students and the message it will send across industries about our responsibility to support the very neighborhoods that supported our dreams.
SocialWorks (http://www.socialworkschi.org) aims to empower youth through the arts, education and civic engagement, while fostering leadership, accessibility and positivity within the youth throughout Chicago. The framework for interactive spaces and experiences aims to nurture local talent and open new doors, much like what its co-founder, Chance the Rapper, has done in the music industry. Leveraging a combination of grassroots marketing while staying true to his vision, Chance became the first streaming artist to be nominated for – and win – a Grammy. Together, SocialWorks and friends hope to move forward with the same spirit of innovation, bringing the city and its youth together.