ABOUT THE CHESS CHALLENGE
Since 2004, ASAP annually organizes over 200 chess clubs for 4,000 youth
playing in schools, community and recreation centers, libraries, places
of worship and homeless shelters across the city - making the Chess Challenge
ASAP's centerpiece initiative.
The Chess Challenge provides students with dedicated mentors and immerses
them in a positive peer group focused on an activity that fosters creativity
and develops decision-making skills. Indeed, scientific support for chess
is extremely strong. The US Chess Federation (2007) sites numerous research
studies on the importance of chess as a means to improving academic achievement,
and increasing patience, self-control, and sportsmanship among school-aged
kids. Furthermore, a recent New York Times article reported that ten colleges
and universities are providing substantial scholarships to expert chess
players because of their critical thinking skills and ability to strategize.
ASAP'S CHESS EVENTS
To highlight Philadelphia's chess-playing youth, ASAP sponsors tournaments
and other chess events throughout the year to promote socialization, engender
a deeper understanding of the rules of the game, and celebrate the accomplishments
of Chess Challenge kids. The Community College of Philadelphia, the Franklin
Institute, National Constitution Center, the African American Museum of
Philadelphia, the Please Touch Museum, and the Eagles' Lincoln Financial
Field have all been hosts to Chess Challenge events, which include:
Philadelphia Scholastic Chess League
ASAP resurrected the defunct Philadelphia Scholastic Chess League in 2004.
The League now boasts 69 teams at the elementary, middle and high school
levels, competing in weekly matches across the city.
Monthly Saturday Chess Tournaments
ASAP's Chess Challenge tournaments are open to the public and feature
five rounds of rated and non-rated tournament play for kids ages K-12.
Philly Girls Play Chess
ASAP is concerned about local and national statistics which reveal that
the number of girls playing chess drops dramatically after the fourth
grade. Through Philly Girls Play Chess, ASAP works with chess coaches,
girls' organizations, and students to specifically target young girls
in Philadelphia in an effort to stop the decrease in female players after
the age of eight, keeping girls engaged and involved in chess.
Checkmate Violence 24-hour Chess Marathon
Each year, ASAP holds a 24-hour Chess Marathon to "checkmate violence"
at Temple University. This epic event features several tournaments and
chess activities which showcase the efforts of Chess Challenge kids to
improve themselves and their communities. Participants have included Mayor
Michael Nutter and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who have stayed
just long enough to be checkmated by Chess Challenge students. Up to 200
chess players attend each year - with about 100 competing for the whole
MLK Jr. Family Chess Day
Inspired by a chess coach, ASAP's Family Chess Day is held on the weekend
of the MLK Jr. holiday to unite families in an afternoon of positive intellectual
and social interaction. More than 200 people have attended at the African
American Museum of Philadelphia and each year Congressman Chaka Fattah
plays a simultaneous match against several Chess Challenge youth.
For more information about ASAP's chess events, please contact Dyresha Harris
or 215-545-2727 ext. 18
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
Chess club leaders and club sites come from all walks of Philadelphia
life and are just as diverse as the kids they serve. All club leaders
and sites have a dedication to serving youth and believe in the benefits
of chess for young people. No prior knowledge of chess is required to
be a chess club leader or to host a club! ASAP provides training, instructional
materials, chess supplies, placement assistance, and ongoing support for
its volunteers and site partners. Chess trainings are held monthly and
are led by Steve Shutt, coach of the Masterman School chess team. Mr.
Shutt currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Scholastic Council for the
United States Chess Federation and previously served as the Vice-President
of the Executive Board.
IF YOU ARE A VOLUNTEER...
We applaud you for your initiative! Those with interest in leading a
Chess Challenge club please contact Dyresha Harris at email@example.com
or 215-545-2727 ext. 18 with the following information:
- Potential site or service area in mind (i.e.
Northwest Philly, Olney, South Philly, etc.)
- Time and days available to serve (ASAP requires
a minimum of one hour per week for the equivalent of a semester, e.g.
September-December or January-June)
- Preferred age range
If a club leader does not have a specific site in mind, ASAP will help
you find one. Volunteer chess club leaders must attend a volunteer Orientation
and a New Chess Instructor Training, provided by ASAP. If you are a staff
member at an after school program, you only need to attend the New Chess
ASAP also prepares criminal background checks and abuse clearance forms,
as well as FBI background checks for club leaders. These forms are required
for volunteers not already under contract with another organization (such
as the School District, Department of Recreation, etc.).
IF YOU ARE A SITE...
ASAP coordinates clubs wherever children gather. If you are interested
in hosting an ASAP-coordinated chess club please contact Dyresha Harris at
or 215-545-2727 ext. 18 with the following information:
- Potential club leader contact information
- Time and day available for chess (ASAP clubs
generally run between 3pm and 6pm)
- Number of students interested
- Age range of students served by your site
ASAP generally asks that sites seek their own club leaders to expedite
the process of establishing a chess club. Teachers, retired persons, parents,
college students, and staff at your site are generally good places to
start in order to find a club leader. ASAP can provide flyers and notices
to help recruit volunteers. In some cases ASAP is able to point a volunteer
in your direction; however, it tends to be the case that the demand for
volunteers outweighs the supply.
- Alan Lindy
- William and Debbie Becker
- Eagles Youth Partnership
- Drexel's Institute for Women's Health and
- Hamilton Family Foundation
- Vivian and Oscar Lasko
- Lindback Foundation
- Philip B. Lindy
- Lomax Family Foundation
- The Phillies
- Wachovia Regional Foundation