Kanye West performs at Stay in School benefit

June 11, 2009 3:02:59 PM PDT
Good grades paid off for thousands of Chicago public school students Thursday.Singer Kanye West rewarded them with a free concert.

The Kanye West Foundation, founded by the late Dr. Donda West, was established to help combat the school dropout problem plaguing our country. KWF partnered with SHOW - Students Helping Our World - another foundation, started by two suburban high school students, and Chicago Public Schools for the second Stay in School benefit concert Thursday afternoon at the Chicago Theatre.

Three thousand students from six schools packed the Chicago Theatre for the Kanye West concert . It turned out to be a Kanye West love fest.

"I'm just really happy to be in business with such great people. I've seen my mother's dream coming more true every day," Kanye West said.

"The great thing for 3,000 young people who have earned their ticket to this concert to get a chance to meet Kanye West," said Joseph Collins, CEO, Kanye West Foundation.

The show was founded by suburban high school students David Abrams and Zack Harris. Their plan was to host a concert where all the attendees will have met their requirements for improving their attendance and their grades and given them tickets to the concert.

"We put up posters, we met with all the student council. We wanted to let everyone know that this was happening. All you have to do is do good in school and you'll get a free ticket to this concert," Abrams said.

"So we have two North side schools, two South Side schools and one school from the West Side. So we have schools from all over the city," Harris said.

"This is really exciting, as I said, the buzz at those six schools and those students who worked really hard for attendance and grades," said Ron Huberman, CEO, Chicago Public Schools.

The students were thrilled to attend and to be able to see and hear Kanye West perform.

"He's amazing. It was great, great seeing one of our idols, we get to see in real life," said Raymond Flowers, Robeson High School.

"I love him so much. I feel like crying," said Shantera Foster, Robeson High School.

"It was a wonderful experience for me and my friends. We're just loving it right now," said Carl Brandon, Harlan Community Academy.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Huberman personally thanked Kanye West and Abrams and Harris for encouraging students to stay in school and do well.

"What's great about these programs is it helps kids to be expressive and creative and build self-worth," West said.

"Just loving the concert experience of being with my friends, listening to the music tonight," said Romane Hudson, Harlan Community Academy.

The Kanye West Foundation said this will become an annual event. They intend to continue to help combat the nation's high school dropout rates. He added that he hopes to encourage other performers to join the education crusade.

Donda West died in November 2007.

During a news conference before the concert, Kanye West said he sees his mother's "dream coming true."

Collins says the concert will help reduce the city's nearly 50 percent dropout rate.

The show for students from six area schools is one of two performances Thursday. The second, a Stay in School concert, will benefit the Kanye West Foundation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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