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Our Lunchtime Chess Classes Make a Huge Social Impact. You Can Help.

Posted: 2 years, 4 months ago

By Abel Talamantez, Director of Enrichment

Bay Area Chess' lunchtime chess classes truly reflect our mission statement of Transforming Lives Through Chess. Taught in 12 local schools serving socioeconomically-disadvantaged populations, our programs seek to teach and promote not only chess, but also important skills that kids need to succeed in their lives and make a positive impact on society. Some of these skills include sportsmanship, learning from defeat, persevering through adversity, planning, self-confidence and ethical decision making.

Our students can apply these skills in their relationships in their schools and communities, making a positive impact that will have a ripple effect to society. Thus, our programs are about social justice and responsibility as much as they are about chess. At the same time, the popularity of our lunchtime classes goes to show that the love and interest in chess transcends all obstacles crosses all cultures.

“Our 1st-5th grade students really enjoy our weekly chess club with Bay Area Chess," said Jennifer Elenes, the Principal of Empire Gardens Elementary School in San Jose (two photos above), whose lunchtime program is sponsored by the Rajaram family. "They don't even realize all they are learning beyond chess, values including: learning from mistakes, sportsmanship, planning, and fair play. Chess is helping them to develop responsibility as they apply these skills in other areas with a positive impact on the school community.”

Transforming Lives through Chess

The beauty of these classes is that they make chess available to anyone interested. There is no cost to the parent, so we are able to expose many students to the game that would otherwise not be able to afford a traditional after-school class. Kids eat lunch first, then go to the designated chess room and engage in fun supervised learning and play from our amazing coaches. And you never know who may drop by for a special visit. In our photo below, GM Cristian Chirila stopped by our class at Horace Mann Elementary in San Jose!

Michelle Reghitto is the Principal at Terrell Elementary School in San Jose (see picture below). “Prior to starting Bay Area Chess at Terrell Elementary, Thursday was the most difficult day for students. We saw an increase in physical aggression during lunch recess,” says Righetto. "The year we started Bay Area Chess, our referrals (for bad behavior) for lunchtime recess dropped significantly! Today Bay Area Chess has become a part of our school culture. Students love chess and cannot wait to get into the chess room! As of now, Thursday is our 2nd lowest day for referrals.”

How You Can Help

The lunchtime class is funded by either the schools themselves or through the generous contributions from members in the community. This year we were able to get three sponsorships of a full year of chess classes. We wish to thank Dominic Sartorio and the Sartorio family, Chandrika Rajaram and the Rajaram family, and Archana Upadhaya and Shastha Foods. These contributions are special because they come from the families of some of the top junior chess players in the country, who know firsthand the value chess can have on a child.

We have expanded our lunchtime offerings to 12 schools, and we would love to see more students have this opportunity. For as little as $2,500, you can provide a full year of chess classes to a school. If you would like to contribute, even a small amount, or if you have a school you would like to sponsor, please reach out to us at enrich@bayareachess.com.

Providing these opportunities and the lessons children gain will make a great social impact. Students will bring these values with them in every activity the engage in, and in the interactions they have with others. Be a part of making a positive difference through chess, and help transform a child's life, and our community, for the better.