Still, the organization is forging ahead with programming, he said.
But that statement also made it clear that the nonprofits backers were concerned about Wests controversial comments of late.
Kanye West has been off the board of Dondas House, nonprofit named after his mom, for more than a year
Over the last few months, due to Mr. Wests controversial public political statements, the organization received communications of concern from sponsors, foundations and supporters.
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I think when it comes to finances for nonprofits, especially on the South Side in Chicago, theres always a challenge, Rhymefest said. Thats not something thats new. Thats not something we havent been talking about. Especially (when) African-Americans lead nonprofits. Its always a challenge building capacity.
In the last five years, Dondas House has worked with more than 500 students directly and has helped more than 8,000 through its outreach programs, according to the nonprofit.
Kanye West appears with his mother, Donda West, in 2007. (Vince Bucci / Getty Images)
The organization acknowledged Wests early contributions in a news release, stating: Mr. West supported the organization by designing the logo with his creative team, paying for legal support to file for exemption status and eventually, through the Louis Vuitton Foundation, secured our largest donation to date of $133,000.
The social media blowup, which pitted Rhymefest against Wests spouse, Kim Kardashian West, was the first public sign of problems. But in a news release issued Tuesday, the organization suggested backers were concerned about Kanye Wests political commentary. The rapper met with then-President-electDonald Trumpand has publicly supported him; he also called American slavery a choice.
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There were a lot of emotions around what weve been able to do together in the last five years, Donnie Smith told the Tribune on Tuesday. Really, the biggest concern was the importance of continuing the work.
Rhymefest and Donnie Smith, a former Chicago Public Schools teacher who also co-founded the nonprofit, told the Tribune they want to move forward and not focus on the Twitter beef. The married couple remain board members.
In the wake of a high-profile battle on social media, the Chicago nonprofit named forKanye Wests late mother has announced its new name: Art of Culture Inc.
The nonprofits original namesake, Donda West, was an English professor atChicago State University. When Kanye was a teenager, she opened her home to his peers, including Rhymefest.
Kanye and I have not had much contact over the last two years, Rhymefest said. And Donnie and I, along with the community, have been pushing Dondas House along. My main focus is whats happening in Chicago. How can we lower the violence rate? How can we get more young people involved?
The financial standing of the nonprofit was brought into question in the last week; the organization hasnt filed a tax return since 2015 and that showed a modest revenue of $206,023.
A representative for West did not return a request for comment.
Kanye West appears with his mother, Donda West, in 2007.
The Smiths said the new name was decided Saturday at a community meeting in Chicago. Those in attendance talked about broadening the name and separating it from any one celebrity or artist, according to the Smiths.
And, Smith said, the organization plans to hold a teen summit that examines a number of issues, including what it means to live in Chicago, and would like to start an international artists exchange program, possibly with South Africa, Senegal and Colombia.
On Saturday, young artists involved with the nonprofit will showcase their original music at the Chicago Blues Festival in Millennium Park. This summer, the organization will return to its summer home base at Dyett High School for the Arts, offering workshops on writing, open mic performances and podcasting as well as other types of media.
The Smiths said recent tax filings will be released publicly in a week, but didnt deny that financing a nonprofit is tough.
As we move forward, we want to make sure this house is open for everybody, Rhymefest added. All cultures, all different types of arts.
West was a founder of the nonprofit originally named Dondas House. But recently co-founder Che Rhymefest Smith, the South Side rapper and activist, took to Twitter and accused West of neglecting the Chicago youth arts organization. Turns out, West had not been on the board of directors of the charity for more than a year, according to records obtained by the Chicago Tribune.
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Our values are not going to change, our mission is not going to change, Rhymefest told the Tribune Tuesday. Its just the name.