A History of DACIS

The Dallas program began in 1992 under the auspices of the American Chess Foundation (now known as "Chess-in-the-Schools"). ACF's Executive Director Allen Kaufmann asked Dallas master John Jacobs, a former Texas state and Texas junior champion, to serve as a volunteer Project Coordinator to begin a chess-in-the-schools program in the Dallas ISD. The Dallas-based McDermott Foundation had made a donation to ACF to provide the initial funding for the program. DISD's Superintendent Chad Woolery suggested the William Lipscomb Elementary School in east Dallas as a school which would match the type of demographics that chess-in-the-schools sought to reach. Several instructors, including chess experts Matt Goshen and Ed English, taught multiple classes at Lipscomb that inaugural year. In spite of a late start in the fall of 1992, a chess team from Lipscomb captured honors and a trophy in the novice section of the National Elementary Chess Championships held in Dallas in the spring of 1993. Subsequently, the chess team was recognized with a special proclamation at a meeting of the DISD Board of Trustees.

Since the inaugural year, the chess-in-the-schools program has spread to nearly two dozen DISD elementary schools located primarily in east and southern Dallas. Funding from the ACF/Chess-in-the-Schools propelled the program through 1997, when New York City-based Chess-in-the-Schools decided to concentrate its resources in the New York City area. In 1998, with assistance from the New York group, key leaders of the Dallas program, including Rodney Thomas, Luis Salinas, Dr. Tim Redman and Jim Stallings, formed a new, separate organization named "Dallas Area Chess-in-the-Schools" to carry forward the program on a local basis. John Jacobs was elected as DACIS' first president. DACIS, as it is known, is an incorporated, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit entity whose mission is to use chess as a tool in enhancing the self-esteem and academic skills in school-age children, primarily from socially and/or economically disadvantaged backgrounds, in the greater Dallas area. The local DACIS board has begun to attract local corporate sponsors such as IBM, All-State Insurance, Nortel Networks and Southwest Airlines.

In addition to offering in-class chess instruction, DACIS provides chess equipment to the schools and arranges at least two "free" inter-school chess tournaments each year to further stimulate students' interest and horizons. As a result of an alliance initiated in 1997 with the University of Texas at Dallas, not only do UTD chessplayers serve as instructors in the DACIS program, but winners of DACIS' annual championship tournaments receive full, 4-year scholarships to UTD. Thus, the DACIS championship has the distinction of being one of the few forms of K-12 interscholastic competition which offers its winners an automatic full collegiate scholarship.