Last week, Chance the Rapper donated $1 million to Chicago Public Schools. The three-time Grammy winner and Chicago native described the gesture as a "call to action" following an "unsuccessful" meeting with Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner regarding funding.
On Wednesday, Billboard published an open letter to Chance written by three Chicago students — Alex Rojas, Alondra Cerros, and Annelisse Betancourt from Lake View High School — thanking the rapper for his donation and his ongoing efforts to help their city.
"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," they wrote. "This is only one of the many things that you have done to improve our Chicago."
"We look up to you because the fame usually takes humility away from artists, but it hasn't changed you," the students continued, mentioning how much time Chance has spent in his home city, including the free concerts he's hosted. (Last month he even paid for Chicago residents to see the film Get Out at a local theater.)
The students went on to thank the rapper for his efforts to curb gun violence in the city. In 2014, he started a #SaveChicago anti-violence campaign for Memorial Day weekend in partnership with local radio stations and community programs. The city went 42 hours without a reported shooting.
"We just want to thank you for not forgetting where you came from and helping the city of Chicago in more ways than just being an inspirational rapper," the students wrote. "You're using your fame for good and not just to look good."
On a more personal note, the students shared what their own experience has been like growing up in Chicago, and what Chance's music and generosity have meant to them:
As minority students we feel ignored and as though we don't have enough support from bigger influences like you. 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. Your music puts some at ease because we know that someone cares and someone has experienced these daily struggles too. You and your music have taught us that you can be true to yourself and still be successful, still be self-made.
Chance saw the students' letter and posted a response on Twitter. "I appreciate you guys, and you'll be happy to know the work has only just started," he wrote, teasing "huge things to come" in the next two weeks.