When Dreams Come True, Dream More!

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Through the generous support of our Berkeley Chess School Community, ADA access to our School and Chess Center has been restored, and much more!

In 2017, to meet program demand, and ensure organizational resilience in a rising rental market, the Berkeley Chess School purchased a 6,500 square-foot building. A former church, the expansive nave was a perfect tournament hall! We were thrilled to find a building with the capacity to meet the School’s current and future needs, and potential as a venue for elite competitions, for less than what we were paying in rent.

Initially, substantial investment was needed to improve the building’s ADA accessibility. The exterior ADA ramp, installed in 1983 and too narrow and steep to comply with current code, had to be removed and the restrooms upgraded. Restoring ADA access was urgent and crucial. The only feasible solution was to expand the front entrance to accommodate a lift. Generous donations from the Rock Foundation, the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation, and BCS board members Dr. Andrew Lazarus and Dr. Wendy Muse Sinek led the way, and an outpouring of support from our community―in time, talent, and giving―followed!

The Berkeley Chess School was extraordinarily fortunate to have the help of internationally award-winning architect (and BCS parent) Jasmit Rangr of Rangr Studio, who redesigned the front entrance for a fraction of his professional fee. A successful capital campaign raised over a million dollars for the lift, accessibility improvements throughout the building, a new classroom, a small cafe, and a stunning new front entrance, featuring a 256 square-foot chessboard window. Passersby are literally invited to step into the game! With the project nearly complete, BCS was able to host the first US Senior Women’s Championship this November, the first of one of many Championships our small, but mighty, West Coast Chess Center hopes to host in the future!

There are a few things left to do! Our construction schedule may prove Zeno’s paradox: that the remaining distance to any goal can be halved to infinity! Even now, with the building complete and the lights on, we will need to wait for heat in our new lobby and cafe. San Pablo Avenue is State Route 123, and CalTrans has a say in the placement of our pipes!

And there is more we need to do! An ephemeral pond that forms in the basement during heavy rains must be addressed. Downstairs storage areas will be transformed to needed classrooms. We would like to add chess murals to our highly visible north and west exterior walls; and a butterfly garden to the playground (we are on the monarch flyway!) to provide food and respite for weary, winged travelers, and wonder for the children!

Please help us with a donation to our Building Fund! We deeply appreciate your support!

Donate to our 2023 Year End Appeal!

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