In November 2016, Che Smith aka Rhymefest announced via Instagram that Kanye Wests childhood home had been purchased and would be converted to a community Arts incubator by Donda’s House, a nonprofit arts education organization founded in the memory of West’s mother by Smith and Kanye West.
I’m excited to announce the purchase of Kanye’s childhood home as a community Arts incubator. It will be the first of our Nationwide Lite-Houses. A state of the art recording studio, a curriculum space for @dondashouse and southside music museam. We want to show bright spots in communities thatve been divested from, we know more Lights exist here, they just need to be activated. Please click the link in my bio & Donate to DondasHouse, support our efforts to support our youth. #givingtuesday
According to a statement from the organization at the time, “Donda’s House envisions this facility as not only a homegrown hub of economic activity for the South Side but also a gathering place for the community with events and concerts.”
Unfortunately, the home has not been touched since said announcement and almost a year later it sits dilapidated, abandoned and littered with trash according to The DailyMail. They found the house surrounded by garbage, old fireworks, and broken glass plus paraphernalia associated with crack – tin foil and plastic bottles. Since the Dailymail report, Donda’s house has issued a statement giving updates on the home and it’s next steps.
An Update on Litehouse: Donda’s House
In November of 2016, Donda’s House Inc. acquired the childhood home of Kanye West, located in the South Shore Community on the South Side of Chicago. The South & West Sides of Chicago have seen record divestment and population loss, with the most exciting new developments being the Obama Presidential Center and the South Shore/Jackson Park golf course project supported by Tiger Woods. Since our launch in August of 2013, Donda’s House has operated in other spaces including The Ark of St. Sabina, Harold Washington Library and Columbia College. Since acquiring the property we have done the following: Met with an architect – who recommended that we demolish the property and rebuild due to significant structural damage. Additionally, we want to be able to accommodate more people and the current space would not allow us to do that. Met with the Alderman – the space is currently zoned for Residential and needs to be rezoned in order to accommodate our programming. Secured the support of AARP Illinois – AARP Illinois sponsored the property acquisition and all costs as it related to acquiring the property. Secured a landscaper – In order to ensure that the grounds remained presentable. Removed a damaged storage shed – We removed a damaged storage shed in the back of the property as well as repaired a hole in the roof to prevent further structural damage. Many of the funders we’ve met with are interested in supporting programming in the space once it opens. We are also planning to launch two new social enterprises this Spring, that will support raising funds for the new space. Executive Director of Donda’s House, Donnie Smith says, “More capacity building support has to be given to organizational leaders that come from the communities that we serve. We have to empower residents and community leaders to be at the helm & the forefront of innovation in their communities and in addition to Donda’s House arts programming, we plan to do just that when our new space opens.” Although we have acquired the property, our primary goal is our mission of providing access to the arts. When it comes to our funding priorities, our programs take precedent and we have continued our free art classes, auditions and Alumni Support. We have also constructed our capital campaign and timeline for the new space which includes adding additional board members, meeting with Foundations, and individual donors. We are planning a fundraiser for the space for Giving Tuesday (November 28, 2017), as well as our annual End of the Year campaign will be devoted to raising funds for the space. We are also working on a new website specifically devoted to the space, which will launch in January of 2018. It is estimated that this project needs $1 million to reach completion, and our timeline is contingent on our ability to raise the funds needed without suspending our day-to-day operations. According to Grassroots Institute, “most capital campaigns last two to three years with many going as long as five years.” We are still in the planning phase of our campaign, as we do the internal and behind the scenes work necessary to launch the public-facing side of our capital campaign. Creative Director of Donda’s House Rhymefest, who lives in the Chatham Community on the South Side said, “We have a solid vision for the space, but now we need the dollars to back up that vision. Hip-hop artists have been at the forefront of the fashion industry and the film industry, but it is now time that we participate in developing the communities that we come from.” If anyone is interested in supporting the development of the project or learning more please contact us at email@example.com. You can also join our Mailing List here. Finally, you can follow us on social media @dondashouse on Instagram & Twitter, or Facebook to stay updated on all of our exciting programs & initiatives! Thank you for your support!