Youngsters using chess to give back

Youngsters using chess to give back


Thanks to the influence of chess enrichment instructor Rachel Schechter, the students at Montessori School of Champaign-Urbana have developed a love for the game in recent years.

And now, in conjunction with an original application developed by Schechter called Treasure Chess — for which she has a patent pending — those students are using their new hobby as a way to give back to the community.

Today, Montessori will host a reception at which Schechter and the members of the school's chess club will present a check to Crisis Nursery composed of funds they generated through playing Treasure Chess through the enrichment program.

"Last semester, we donated to the Humane Society because the kids wanted to help the animals," Schechter said. "This time around, they wanted to help other kids and they voted to donate to Crisis Nursery."


Through Treasure Chess, players score points for learning and implementing good chess skills. Those points are later converted into charity dollars, and students work throughout the course of the 16-week program to score as many points as they can and, in turn, raise money that can be donated.

The donation to the Humane Society was $250, and while the totals for the Crisis contribution are still being calculated, it's expected to eclipse that.

"Cumulatively, we come up with a number, and each parent is invited to sponsor their child's earnings and that's spread out over 18-20 kids," Schechter said. "Let's say your child earns $24.60. You're invited as a parent — it's optional — (to) cover all, more, less or none of that.

"It's never a mandatory thing. We believe that community giving is important and it's one of the things we're pleased to combine with the chess playing."

The concept was developed by Schechter while she was the scholastic director at Dr. G's ChessWorks a few years ago and an 8-year-old student decided he wanted to donate the points he earned to charity.

"I knew at that time this was a winner of an application and a concept," Schechter said. "They love the game. When you add the point values and they're going to convert them and contribute to charity, they get more excited. They get excited about the competition. They like voting for charities, they like taking responsibility for it and helping people in need."

The folks at Crisis Nursery sure are grateful that the kids at Montessori made them the charity of choice this time around.

"Rachel reached out and explained that their chess club was doing a little fundraiser for other kids in the community, and I thought that was really cool that they could think of other kids," said Crisis' director of development and communications, Angie Hatfield Marker.

For most of the students in the program at Montessori, it's the first time they've been exposed to chess.

"We like building character and developing good chess players as well," Schechter said. "You can't start early enough."


Source: The News Gazette