MacArthur fellow Kyle Abraham was former food-stamp recipient

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Kyle Abraham faced financial hardships that once qualified him for food stamps. Now, the 36-year-old dancer has been awarded with $625,000 and was officially recognized Wednesday with a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship.

The New-York based choreographer appeared on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes Wednesday to discuss some of the struggles he faced growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he soon after became dependent on government assistance, all the while pursing his love for dance.

Abraham had amassed close to $200,000 in student loan debt and struggled to support his family as his father battled Alzheimer’s.

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His financial woes were deepened once he launched his own dance company, Abraham.In.Motion, and he often skipped meals in effort to supply more resources to his dancers.

“I was thinking about my father who at the time was needing a lot of care and trying to think about my family and eat a meal and pay the student loans, it was just so hard and really stressful for me to try and do all of those things and make art at the same time,” he told Hayes.

For Abraham, receiving the benefits of food stamps helped to relieve some of the stress and lightened his burden.

He was one of the millions of Americans enrolled in the food stamp program, which has recently sparked a debate that led the House of Representatives to pass a bill that will cut $40 billion from the program and drop more than 38 million of its current recipients.

But Abraham said he doesn’t want to become dependent on the assistance and instead, hopes to manage his finances independently.

While Abraham is no longer a food-stamp recipient and only received the benefits for close to a year, he told the Huffington Post he is still grateful for the assistance he received.

Now, with the latest “genius grant” he has been offered, Abraham said he plans to pay back his loans, take care of his family and support his dance company.

Follow Lilly Workneh on Twitter @Lilly_Works

 

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