Inner-City Arts is an oasis of learning, achievement and creativity in the heart of Los Angeles’ Skid Row. As a vital partner in the work of creating a safer and healthier Los Angeles, they provide some of the poorest LA students with the tools and skills they need to succeed academically and personally. ABC’s Good Morning America provides national coverage of in-depth coverage of breaking news stories.

23-Year-Old Goes From Skid Row to College Graduate

inner city arts graduate

By Kendis Gibson and Emily Shapiro| 05/10/15 | Good Morning America

He said he witnessed drugs and fights on his daily walk to high school.

But Kenneth Chancey, a formerly homeless 23-year old, still maintained a 4.0 GPA and was involved in track, football, swim team. His hard work paid off: With the help of several college scholarships, he decided to attend Loyola Marymount University.

Chancey graduated Saturday with a degree in political science.

“I climbed here bare-handed,” Chancey said. “And yes it was harder than most people who are given resources… parental support. But it’s not impossible.”


When faced with budget cuts and lack of funding, schools are forced to cut the programs like art or music. These creative experiences not only raise test scores by as much as 25%, they boost a child’s confidence and seem to make the biggest difference in a their young lives.

His story is nothing short of inspiring

As Kenneth Chancey accepted his college diploma on Saturday, there is no doubt his exposure to the arts at Los Angeles’ Inner City Arts helped fortify his path out of homelessness. Chancey was homeless and living on the streets at 11. When he transitioned out of the foster care system at 15, he moved from sleeping on Los Angeles city buses to a Skid Row shelter. He managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA, become involved in sports, and participate in the Inner City Arts programs – despite the drugs and violence he witnessed on his walk to high school every day.

Now, at 23, his determination for a better life motivated him to graduate from college with a degree in political science. Before he heads out into the world, Chancey is spending one last summer working at the Inner City Arts summer camp. He hopes to inspire others and change the stereotypical expectations of Skid Row residents.

Stories like Kenneth Chancey’s are proof the arts have a profound impact in many ways.

While funding is the biggest obstacle faced, it is necessary to find ways to continue programs that enrich the lives’ of our youth.

Inner City Arts recently celebrated their 25th Anniversary with their annual Image Awards fundraising event. Bob Smiland, President & CEO of Inner-City Arts, was so impressed he enthusiastically set an additional year-end goal to create his own crowdfunding page where he raised donations from his network of family, friends and colleagues to keep arts programs going.

Imagine if one donation could have been the difference between Chancey being able to be a part of Inner City Arts and pursuing a better life or falling into the stereotypes of at-risk youth and homelessness.

Congratulations on your amazing accomplishments, Kenneth Chancey!

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