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Chance The Rapper Is Raising Big Bucks to Give Heavy-Duty Coats to Chicago’s Homeless This Winter

The Acid Rap artist announces the launch of his ‘Warmest Winter’ initiative.

Fresh off his historic appearance as the first-ever independent artist to perform on Saturday Night Live’s musical stage, Chicago native Chancelor Bennett, better known by his stage name of Chance the Rapper, returned to his hometown to debut an initiative aimed at helping some of that city’s most vulnerable members: its homeless community.

Speaking with the DJs of WGCI’s Chicago Morning Takeover, Chance discussed his experience on SNL, his thoughts on fatherhood, and his take on the ongoing scandal surrounding the shooting death of Laquan McDonald at the hands of Chicago police. He also took the opportunity to publicly announce the launch of Warmest Winter, an initiative in which the rapper is spearheading efforts to provide 1,000 ultra-insulated coats to Chicagoans forced to sleep on the streets during the winter months. The project is the result of a partnership between Chance and The Empowerment Plan, a Detroit-based nonprofit that employs homeless women as seamstresses to create a line of jackets that are water-resistant and self-heating and can transform into a sleeping pouch, as well as be stored as an over-the-shoulder bag.

“There’s 140,000 homeless folks in Chicago, right now, and a lot of them are youth,” Chance explained to the on-air personalities. “They found out earlier this year that 20 percent of CPS—20 percent of Chicago public school children—are homeless.” (A Warmest Winter splash page citing the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless lists slightly smaller—but no less alarming—numbers.) “Chicago has one of the coldest winters in America,” added Chance, “and a lot of people die of hypothermia and coldness-related illnesses.”

To that end, Warmest Winter has set a fundraising goal of $100,000, which would cover the cost of 1,000 multipurpose winter coats that will be given directly to members of Chicago’s homeless community. To motivate potential donors, Chance and The Empowerment Plan are offering some impressive incentives, including tickets to Chicago Bulls or White Sox games, custom art, and a meet-and-greet with Chance at one of his upcoming concerts.

After launching on December 16, Warmest Winter is slated to run through January 13, after which the coats will be distributed through a number of Chicago’s local homeless advocacy agencies. According to the Warmest Winter campaign site, the goal of this partnership is not only to bring some much-needed warmth to Chicago’s homeless community this year, but to pave the way for an eventual Empowerment Plan factory in Chicago.

[Via pigeonsandplanes, cover image via (cc) rob loud / Flickr user pembertonmusicfestival]

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