Multiple Grammy Award-winning producer/artist Kanye West has already established himself as one of the premier artists in the recording industry, but put away the microphone, bling and neon, and you’ll find a crusader against poverty, hunger and poor education.

In 2005, West and his late mother, Dr. Donda West, co-founded the Dr. Donda West Foundation with the goal of reducing the number of kids who drop out of school. The Foundation’s first initiative, Loop Dreams, challenged at-risk students to learn how to write and produce music while simultaneously improving their academic skills.

“During my high school years, it’s the music that I really felt saved me,” said West, “It kept me out of the streets, it kept me from getting into trouble, it gave me something to do when I got kicked off the basketball team. You just get lost in the music. That’s what I did.”

Through donations, concert proceeds, and his foundation, West has been a vocal and outspoken supporter of broader education issues, and of organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam America.

West contributed to a CD compilation benefiting victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Kanye created a lunchbox for an auction benefiting The Lunchbox Fund and the Food Bank For New York City.

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