Chess Hero

A few weeks ago, Intermediate School 318 assistant principal and chess coach John Galvin charged $8,000 to his personal credit card so I.S. 318’s champion chess team could travel to the Grade Championships in Dallas, Texas. Eight thousand dollars is a lot of money for nearly all of us; on a teacher’s salary, it’s an astronomical sum. But not spending the money would’ve meant the I.S. 318 chess team – the best and winningest junior high chess team in the country, bar none – might not have been able to compete. More than 65% of I.S. 318’s students (and 87% of those who are members of the chess team) are from homes living below the poverty line and the cost of travel is prohibitively expensive for nearly all of the school’s parents. I.S. 318, perpetually underfunded in even the best of times, has seen its budget decimated by a series of deep cuts over the last few years. The best chess team in the country, despite having students who work incredibly hard and a staff whose dedication is astonishing, might not be able to compete in the future. Because of money.

Brooklyn Castle is a documentary that is as much about the five young teens it follows as it is about the ability for public schools to do great things when they have the resources. Once we complete our film we will take it to cities across the country and have local screenings to raise awareness about how vital this afterschool program, and others like it, are for schools. We’re also organizing chess tournaments that pit I.S. 318’s chess team against those of some of the most brilliant minds in this country – at places like Harvard and Columbia and the Google campus – so the kids realize those places are within their reach, and word gets out that public schools across the country are suffering from the crushing effects of budget cuts. We learned in making this documentary that even with a staff that cares and students that work hard, a lack of resources can undermine even the most hard-won achievements. And we don’t think that’s fair.

We are very close to completing Brooklyn Castle, but we’re still 17k away from a having a film that’s ready for theaters. We cannot finish the film without your help! Please support – and help spread the word about – our Kickstarter campaign, so we can share the story of I.S. 318 with a nationwide audience and make a positive impact on public schools and school children.

Please visit our campaign here:

By the way, that tournament that John Galvin spent $8,000 getting the kids to? The 8thgraders came in first place.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar