Chicago is a city that is struggling with many things. Apart from all of the controversy surrounding the Chicago Police Department, the state is gripped in a financial budget crisis affecting many programs and institutions. Chicago State University, which is threatened with closure, had students who shut down expressways and traveled to Springfield, Illinois to protest the failure to pass a state budget.
Carlisa Ford enjoys playing and would like to continue.
Photo by Andrea Watson.
Over the past several years, scores of Chicago Public Schools have been closed or merged and programs have been cuts. These issues are affecting the entire education system in the state and Chicago schools have been one of the biggest losers. It doesn’t take long to realize the economic and social impact of these cuts… and impact on crime rates. Recent budget cuts have resulted in the loss of extracurricular programs for students.
One of the casualties has been the Earle STEM Academy which in west Englewood in one of the most challenged areas in the city. The club has been very successful winning several location competitions and have also competed in National K-12 tournament.
Earle STEM Academy on the southside of Chicago is hoping to continue the chess program offered at the school. The Chicago Public School budget cuts has resulted in a $17,000 cut for chess activities. Mr. Joseph Ocal (far right) stands with students and parents to keep program going.
Earle STEM Academy recently set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the school’s chess program. The $17,000 lost means that the program has to be run with personal funds. Joseph Ocal has been running the program and had to break the news to his 35 players. They were devastated. Ocal plans to run the program anyway. He will volunteer twice a week, from 4-6 p.m. at the school, 2040 W. 62nd St., and all day on Saturdays before competitions. He pays for food out of his own pocket.
Those in the chess world will know this story all too well. The dedicated chess coach who gives of his/her time and own money. It is a thankless job, but one that carries extreme importance in places like Chicago where idle minds usually end up leading to trouble. So far the GoFundMe effort has brought in nearly $9,000 of the $17,000 target.
Andrea Watson, “CPS Budget Slashed for Top-Ranked Englewood Chess Team,” DNAinfo.com, 18 February 2016.
Andrea Watson, “Donations Are Rolling in To Save Englewood Elementary School’s Chess Team,” DNAinfo.com, 19 February 2016.