About this project
Study after study proves that few things are better for a child than chess. It raises IQ's; it improves grades; it improves decision making; it improves social skills; it improves self confidence.
And they love it.
And yet when we went to the school systems, they showed little interest in incorporating chess into their curriculum. That was three years ago. During that time we have strung together volunteers, rallied parents and caught the attention of some forward thinking educators to prove that chess programs are one of the most effective tools at improving cognitive, social and community related skills.
How did we do it? Two years ago we got East End Elementary to allow us one morning a week to train children in chess. Class was no more than an hour. We kept it lively and fun. We found volunteers who could come in and sit with the children and play along side them, while mentoring and teaching the children the values associated with chess as well as life. Each semester the program became more and more popular until we were regularly teaching up to 30 kids per session. At the time, East End was a failing school dealing with a wide mix of children coming from diverse backgrounds that too often created obstacles to learning. After two years of training over one hundred different children in chess, we put together a team that went on to beat chess teams from Portland and Falmouth and next year will compete at State.
But with funding so minimal, and with so many schools and children, we just can't get to everybody. Which is why we created the Maine Chess Academy.
The Maine Chess Academy represents a new entrepreneurial spirit. We believe we can work as a non-profit, raise money based on the results we achieve, while partnering with the school system, city and community to create sustainable chess programs from elementary school to high school.
But we need help. We need to urgently build a web site, pay application fees for 501 (c) 3 status, as well as buy boards, seek volunteers, promote chess throughout the system, offer more training, more competition and continue to build our program so all kids can benefit by it. This is only the beginning. We have even bigger, more ambitious plans to make Portland a Chess-friendly city.
Risks and challenges
Our number one obstacle is getting the initial investment so we can do the things we need to do to attract corporate and private donations as well as grant money. But we can't do these things until we have a website, marketing material and IRS classification as a non-profit. We believe that we are less than four months from achieving those objectives. In the mean time, we have not been idle. We have partnered with the Portland Education Foundation to provide administrative support and have expanded our programs to reach over 80 elementary students a week throughout the city. But with not enough funding to buy boards, co-ordinate volunteers, travel and (eventually) pay a single staff member, we are struggling to make ends meet. We need help!
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