D.L. Chandler

Kanye West Launches Writing & Production Program For At-Risk Chicago Youth


Although Kanye West has morphed into one of music’s biggest stars, the Chicago native hasn’t forgotten his Southside roots. In August, West’s Donda’s House nonprofit organization is teaming with another group to launch the “Got Bars” music writing and production program.

Donda’s House, named after West’s mother, Dr. Donda West, and the ARK of St. Sabina community center will be conducting the 10-week course for troubled and at-risk youth ages 15 through 24. Dr. West worked in education and her son issued a statement early last week to announce the aims of the program.

“My mom spent her life as an educator and I am happy that Donda’s House can pick up her torch and honor her life’s mission,” said West via the statement.

The program will be directed by one of West’s past collaborators, Che “Rhymefest” Smith, the co-founder and assistant director of Donda’s House. Rhymefest’s wife, Donnie Smith, an English teacher, serves as the executive director while her husband will oversee the music and production teaching duties. The program will also teach participants about the benefits of working out, eating well, and other applicable life skills.

“I am so happy to launch “Got Bars” to honor Kanye West’s mother’s memory and to fulfill one of my Alder manic campaign goals,” said Rhymefest in a statement. “Got Bars” will change our youth musically, get them healthy and keep them busy in a creative, peaceful environment.”

According to a report from WBEZ, an EP featuring songs from the program’s participants will see a future release.

Next month, the program will be free to a number of participants in the initial pilot launch. Applications are being accepted until Friday, August 2.

For more information, visit the Donda’s House website by following this link. Chicago residents can visit ARK of St. Sabina located at 7800 S. Racine Chicago, IL for an application as well.


Photo: Danny Van Tine

Comment Comments: 2 Tags Tags: kanye west, chicago, rhymefest, southside

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  • Come2Getherblackpeople

    There’s a brotha named Naledge who is doing the exact same thing in Chicago. That’s not to say Chicago isn’t big enough to warrant more than one program like this – definitely enough kids in need of some positivity to go around – but Naledge (from Kids in the Hall) is a very smart Ivy League grad and it’s weird to me that ‘Ye wouldn’t just link up with his program instead of starting another one. And Naledge has already seen GREAT success with his. It’s weird. 1+1=3, people.

    But I guess it’ll have to equal 2 for now. Good look, Mr. West

    • PaperGrantWriter

      Dollars go futher by collaborating.