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More than $20K raised at Sleep In to benefit youth homeless agencies

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Chicago rapper Taylor Bennett made a surprise appearance Feb. 24 at the second Out in the Open Sleep In to benefit youth-serving homeless projects in Chicago. More than 100 people attended the concert portion of the event, and about two dozen stayed over night inside the Second Presbyterian Church, 1936 S. Michigan Ave., host of this year's Sleep In.

More than $20,000 has been pledged so far for the benefit, with funds distributed among 13 agencies. The website will stay open for two weeks to accept more donations, .

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, Illinois state Rep. Juliana Stratton and Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell all spoke about their commitment to working on youth homeless issues.

Artist Erik R. Sosa donated 100% of proceeds of sales of his art exhibited at the show, plus Jasean, a youth activist, also showed his work.

Center on Halsted hosted a satellite event the same evening, with youth sleeping in at 3656 N. Halsted.

More than a dozen youth who have experienced homelessness spoke passionately at the church Sleep In, telling their personal stories, and sharing their dreams for a better future. Many were speaking for the first time in public. The youth were from All Chicago's Youth Advisory Board, Broadway Youth Center, The 750 Club and El Rescate, among other agencies. A full video of the event will be available soon.

In addition to rapper Taylor Bennett, who came to the show right after his own record release, performers and poets at the event included Melo Makes Music, Lucy Smith, Jess Godwin, Sonny Apollo, Yohan, Alma Mendoza, Sami Grisafe, Jace, Jaymal Green from Majostee Allstars, Morocco Brown, and on the church's beautiful organ, University of Chicago student Chelsie Coren. Poet e. nina jay read from her work.

Fawzia Mirza and NBC Chicago's LeeAnn Trotter were MCs.

This year's partner agencies were: The 750 Club Apartment Adoption Project, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Broadway Youth Center of Howard Brown Health, Center on Halsted, Chicago Youth Storage Initiative, El Rescate, La Casa Norte, LYTE Collective, New Moms, The Night Ministry, Pride Action Tank, Teen Living Programs and Unity Parenting.

The event was hosted by Pride Action Tank, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Edelman, agencyEA, Windy City Times newspaper, Second Presbyterian Church, along with a wide range of other partners. Polo Cafe & Catering and Big Shoulders Coffee donated food and beverages.

The video playlist below contains multiple videos. Choose Playlist in the top left hand corner to watch videos out of order, if preferred.

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