Closed for Good

45 3Arts supporters
$5,239 raised of $5,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on April 12, 2015
    • 105% contributed

Closed for Good is a documentary that tells the intimate story of two families and the impact of their neighborhood school closing. The shuttering of 49 Chicago Public Schools in 2013 (the largest collective school closing in history), rocked many Chicago communities. While the news media and other documentary projects have looked at the numbers, the political context, and other ramifications, no one has followed everyday families over a long period of time to see what happens before, during, and after their school closes. I started filming this story over two years ago, and I have accumulated more than fifty hours of footage. With this 3AP campaign, I am now seeking funds to finish the film by hiring Nora Gully, a smart and compassionate editor with over ten years experience, who has worked on films ranging from Academy Award-nominated Finding Vivian Maier, to Kartemquin’s critically acclaimed Chicago classic The Interrupters.  Kartemquin’s founder and artistic director, Gordon Quinn, who has produced films such as Hoop Dreams and Life Itself, will also work with us closely as an advisor.  Timing is critical for this project. If we can finish and submit Closed for Good to film festivals in the coming year, we will be able to reach a lot more people and spark a timely dialogue at both the national and local level. As we near festival deadlines, we are in need of critical completion funds to pay for this post production. If we don’t meet our goal, we get nothing — and risk having this project so close to done, yet sitting on the shelf.  

About This Project

Closed for Good follows two families as their public school closes. Letty and Angel live with their four children in Humboldt Park, two of whom receive special education. When it becomes apparent that protesting and rallying to keep the neighborhood school open isn’t working, they set out desperately to look for a good new school. Worried that the designated receiving school will not have the resources that their special education children need, the family must make hard decisions that will affect their children’s future. Meanwhile in North Lawndale, fourth grader Jainiqua didn’t want to leave Paderewski because it was a “family school;” almost her whole family, including her sisters, mom, aunts, and uncles have gone there. Her mom, Darlene, must decide where to send her two daughters, who have friends going to different schools, as their former teacher, Ms. Holmes, desperately looks for a new job while facing forced early retirement. The disintegration of their community takes a hard toll on the family’s health and wellbeing, and Darlene feels that their social and emotional needs are not being met. While studies show that many students displaced by school closings do not attend the school their district designates, why and how families make those decisions remains unclear. These two individual stories help us understand what is happening to the neighborhood school through the eyes of the families most affected.

Outreach & Engagement Plans

I believe that Closed for Good can shed light on the complexities of these school closings, and the ways they are affecting wider perceptions around public education. Closed for Good can help spark a critical dialogue on priorities and what we value most in education, putting families’ unique circumstances and needs at the forefront. Through a grassroots campaign of community screenings partnering with Chicago-based organizations, as well as a few national organizations, and through a public television broadcast, our team will engage parents, teachers, and policy makers. The story has value for both those who have never experienced a school closing, as well as those who have.

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $25
    Digital download link of “Closed for Good” upon completion ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Signed DVD of “Closed for Good” ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    A three-volume DVD collection of classics from the KARTEMQUIN Films Collection or “The New Americans” signed by renowned filmmaker Gordon Quinn ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $150
    VIP ticket to Chicago Premiere of “Closed for Good” and thank you in the film credits ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $200
    Original print of a photo from WBEZ photographer Bill Healy’s collection of school closings (16x20 archival, Digital-C print on 16x24 Kodak Professional Endura Premier Paper signed by Mr. Healy himself). ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $300
    Host a screening of “Closed for Good” and/or “’63 Boycott” work in progress with one of the filmmakers (in Chicago area or via skype) ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    Associate Producer Credit, “Closed for Good” DVD, and personal tour of Kartemquin with myself and Gordon Quinn ($0.00 is tax deductible.)

Rachel Dickson

Rachel Dickson is an independent documentary filmmaker based in Chicago. Before working in film, she worked as a print and radio journalist in Latin America. She is currently the Supervising Producer of The School Project, a series of short …

View Rachel Dickson's profile
  • Update 1: Thanks for supporting Closed for Good documentary
    Posted on April 24, 2015


    Thanks so much to all who supported Closed for Good, the short documentary I am working on about two families whose schools closed in 2013. I am really excited to continue to work on it and share it with you soon. Interesting developments are happening in the storyline, and I am continuing the edit. Your contribution to editing means so much, and I really appreciate it and can't wait to finish it.

    Exciting news! I also recieved a grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, so I will be able to stretch your donation through 3Arts even more and invest decent time in an editor, translations and transcripts. 

    Hope to see you soon and you will be among the first to know about how the film progresses and when it is done.  Look for updates at, or follow the project on twitter @closed_for_good or at


    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Sarah Simmons

    • Barbara schechtman

    • Christina Simmons

    • Margaret Byrne

    • David Simpson

    • Betsy L Angert

    • Erin Silva Winston

    • Scott Smith

    • Catherine Strong

    • Corby Dale

    • Suzanne Davenport

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Sue Murray

    • cindy and christ stacey

    • Dorianne Conn

    • Siobhan Moffitt

    • Melissa Sterne

    • Rebecca Rahn

    • christopher Thale

    • sylvia ewing

    • Tracye Matthews

    • Bob Hearst

    • Richard Berg

    • Marsha Richman

    • Mary Sommers

    • Katherine Simmons

    • Stephanie weiner

    • paul buchheit

    • Ellen Shepard

    • Kristin Pichaske

    • Julie Lambert

    • Adam Singer

    • Anne Carlson

    • Gordon Quinn

    • Kulmeet Galhotra

    • Daniel Tucker-Simmons

    • Martha dogan

    • Matthew Tucker-Simmons

    • Christiane Rey

    • Mary Morrissette

    • James Thale

    • Karen Weinberg

    • Audrey Stillerman & David Freedman

    • Mark Beasley

    • Jesse Hoyt

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3AP Presenting Partner:

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 Additional support provided by: 

Department of Cultural Affairs logo  Illinois Arts Council