Kanye West Gives Back to Chicago and Los Angeles Amidst Coronavirus

As many citizens in the US and around the world are facing lost jobs, schools closing, and weeks of isolation, due to coronavirus (COVID-19) there is some good being done in ways large and small. For his part, Kanye West, rapper, producer, and entrepreneur, is using some of his wealth to give back to two communities that he has strong ties to. West has donated an undisclosed amount to organizations that help feed some of the most vulnerable in Los Angeles and Chicago.

Kanye West grew up in the south side of Chicago

Kanye West laughing
Kanye West | Randy Holmes/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Though West was born in Atlanta, GA, his parents divorced when he was three and his mother, Dr. Donda West, moved with him to Chicago. She taught high school and later became a professor at Chicago State University. Kanye West spent his formative years in Chicago before eventually moving to LA. His mother died in 2007 of heart disease after undergoing cosmetic surgery.

At one point, West was set to turn her old house in Chicago’s South Shore into a recording studio and museum, and a place for underprivileged youth called Donda’s House. Due to a falling out with rapper and friend Rhymefest, who was running the organization, the project was renamed Art of Culture, Inc. in 2018 and now focuses on running showcases and workshops.

Kanye West donated to We Women Empowered Chicago

We Women Empowered Chicago is a non-profit run by Josephine “Mother” Wade, a woman so loved by the community that they named a street after her. Wade also runs the restaurant Josephine’s Southern Cooking and the two groups work in tandem to deliver three meals a day to the elderly in Chicago’s south side.

Wade spoke to People magazine and said: “He may not even realize it, but I knew his mother and I used to help them many years ago.” She also shared that she was beyond words when she got the call that West wanted to help and that “in one phone call, in an instant today, our world was changed.”

At the time of this writing, Chicago is now under a statewide shelter-in-place order as a measure to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Many residents are facing not only fears about their health and safety but economic uncertainty in the wake of massive job losses.

Kanye West also provided funding for The Dream Center in Los Angeles

The Dream Center has a mission to provide “free resources and services that address immediate and long-term needs in the areas of homelessness, hunger, poverty, addiction, abuse, education, and human trafficking.” As part of their services, they are providing 7,000 meals a day at their Echo Park center in LA via drive-thru service. They hope to ramp that up to 9,000 soon.

The Dream Center stated that West’s donation will help provide “hundreds of thousands of meals during this time to children and elderly in need.” The state of California is also under a shelter-in-place order.

Kanye West once donated $1 million for Kim Kardashian West’s birthday

West isn’t only just providing emergency funds for a global pandemic now but has contributed funds to causes in the past as well. One donation made very publicly was the $1 million he donated for his wife’s 39th birthday.

She posted to her Twitter: “I got amazing gifts from my whole family and Kanye [got] me the most amazing bags. But he also donated $1m to my favorite charities that work so hard on prison reform on my behalf from him and the kids. This makes my heart so happy!”

Prison reform is a cause near and dear to Kardashian West’s heart and inspired her to study law. She is studying 20 hours weekly as part of an apprenticeship program and plans to take the bar exam by 2022.