If you’ve been following Vic Mensa’s career, then you know he does a lot more than write songs and star in music videos.
Throughout his career, the Chicago MC has been heavily involved in social justice movements, like fighting against police brutality, joining Native American protesters at Standing Rock or taking part in marches in Baton Rouge after the Alton Sterling killing.
Mensa has also spoken passionately about his city’s gang problem in CNN’s United Shades of America last year, so it’s clear he has other things on his mind besides money and fame.
Now, the 24-year-old has started his own nonprofit called SaveMoneySaveLife, and he’ll work with two already established initiatives of his.
One of them is called StreetMedics, which trains first responders in some of the most violent neighborhoods in Chicago. The program also puts mental-health professionals in schools that are considered at-risk to help students cope with trauma.
In addition, Mensa’s nonprofit will focus on an initiative called UniVerse, a program that focuses on education and helping young Black people and other folks of of color through mentorship.
To launch SaveMoneySaveLife, the rapper will spearhead an event at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall on Friday (March 16) where both he and fellow Chicagoan Jamila Woods will take the stage.
During an interview with Billboard magazine, the “No Chill” creator spoke about his nonprofit and the initiatives already in place, like UniVerse and its mental health component.
“The amount of trauma that the kids in these neighborhoods are dealing with is almost unprecedented, in what we consider to be first-world society,” said Mensa. “These murders are affecting everyone, every single person in the community. And this violence and this police brutality and the drugs. Almost everybody I know has seen someone they love killed in front of them. But it’s very rare that they get an opportunity to talk to somebody about the trauma and to work through it.”
The news of Mensa starting a nonprofit comes on the heels of 21 Savage announcing a campaign that’ll teach young people about financial literacy. Plus, those who are eligible will receive 1,000 to help open their first account, which the Atlanta rapper believes will get them in the right mind frame to save money in the future.
Some might say that Savage and Mensa should be praised for their efforts, since they’ve taken real steps to bring in other groups and secure the necessary dollars to help their communities do better.
Other rappers who’ve done the same in the past include Lil Wayne, who opened a skate park in the New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward section after Hurricane Katrina hit. And J. Cole who donates school supplies to students in his hometown of Fayetteville, N.C. each year.
The Game is another person who’s given back and not too long ago he issued a sizable donation to the people of Flint, Mich. to help with their water crisis. Chance The Rapper is another MC who’s done his part, and last year he donated $1 million to the Chicago Public School system.
During his interview, Mensa explained why he involves himself in so many causes and why starting his nonprofit was so necessary.
“I’ve been doing social justice work for some time, just out of my own resources and out of my own pocket, just because it’s important to me,” he explained. “So whether that’s taking a bunch of people from Chicago down to Standing Rock or being in Flint, Michigan or being in Palestine or Baton Rouge after Alton Sterling’s killing, I’ve been trying to, just as a man, be present and stand with the struggling and oppressed people around the world. I just thought I could broaden my impact and my reach by starting a nonprofit and putting investment into our community.”