Donnie Smith

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Donnie Smith

2014 Black Male Achievement Fellow
Founder of Donda's House Inc.

Donnie Smith 2014 Black Male Achievement Fellow

Bold Idea 

Close the achievement gap for black boys in Chicago by providing pathways to success and career opportunities using high quality, arts based apprenticeship programs.


Donda's House, Inc. provides access to premium arts instruction to youth. Named after the mother of Kanye West, we harness the influence of celebrities & professionals to inspire, challenge and transform tomorrow's problem solvers. We utilize an apprenticeship model to engage, enhance & ultimately employ artists. We combat violence by engaging perpetrators & potential victims. We teach conflict mediation, goal setting and career readiness by functioning as a nonprofit label. Ultimately, Donda's House will have a global impact by serving as a lantern of light and network of influence for youth who would otherwise not have access to artist development.


Donnie Smith is co-founder and the executive director of Donda's House Inc. Donda's House, named after the mother of Kanye West, provides access to premium arts instruction to youth. After assisting her grammy-award winning husband Che "Rhymefest" Smith with a run for City Council in one of Chicago's most violent neighborhoods and serving as a High School Teacher in the Chicago Public School system, she quickly realized that low-income youth idolized celebrities and suffered from access to artistic and cultural development. As the child of a crack-cocaine addicted mother, an absent father and a survivor of sexual assault, Donnie realized that programs like the Children's Defense Fund - Freedom Schools and a host of others exposed her to new opportunities, helped her escape her daily trauma, and empowered her to use her negative experiences as motivation to change her narrative. Donda's House was born out of the necessity to provide similar experiences to a new generation of youth in order to alter the trajectory of their lives.

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