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Approximately sixteen years ago, Brownsville elementary school teacher J.J. Guajardo, in a last ditch effort to reach his class of second and third graders, labeled by the school principal as “trouble makers,” took the unusual step of introducing them to the game of chess. What came next was totally unexpected. Within two years those very same “trouble makers” won the state chess championship, and just about every kid in town wanted to play chess.

Neither Mr. Guajardo, nor anyone in the school or the entire city of Brownsville, could have foreseen how introducing this game would start a chain of life-changing events for not only his students, but for students throughout the entire state of Texas.

Today the second-poorest county in the United States, with ninety-two percent of its population Mexican American, is home to communities that consistently rank in the top five percent of chess cities in the nation. And, most noteworthy, the students playing chess have grades and test scores in Math and Science that rank among the highest in the state of Texas. Chess has given them thinking and problem-solving skills that will give them dramatic advantages in today’s technology-based workplace.

Higher Ground Entertainment, working in cooperation with the Foundation, is producing Kings of Brownsville, a documentary film that will capture this extraordinary story.

The film will be accompanied a chess supplemental educational component, web site and a two-year educational outreach campaign that will develop chess programs at elementary and middle schools throughout Texas and the U.S.

The campaign will be built around live presentations of the documentary in local communities, including meetings at elementary/middle schools, Boys and Girls Clubs and juvenile hall facilities. Local law enforcement officials and trainees, school boards, teachers, students, correction officers and gang prevention leaders will all be at the center of the campaign.

For more information on this project, contact Suesan Walker at FASE. Ph: 626.793.5300.

 

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