The U.S. Chess Center, contrary to the impression that might have been left by the April 5 Cheap Seats article (“In Chess, White Always Goes First”), is majority-African-American in both its board of directors, on which I have served since 1992, and its clientele.
The center’s mission is to use chess as a means of improving the academic and social skills of children. The money we earn from our suburban programs allows us to subsidize our inner-city D.C. programs in public and charter schools, in community centers, and, previously, in public-housing developments. Over the past 10 years, under the directorship of David Mehler, we have donated more than $150,000 in chess equipment and lessons to the District’s public schools. I have personally witnessed Mehler’s positive interaction with inner-city students and his strong commitment to include these youths in our chess programs.
We measure our success not by the chess champions we create but by the children who remain in school, whose grades improve, who gain a greater ability to concentrate and think, whose destructive behaviors diminish, and who have growing confidence in their abilities. By those measures, we have been wildly successful, as attested to by teachers, parents, and students from dozens of schools.
The U.S. Chess Center is an oasis of diversity where children from all backgrounds meet as equals to share an activity they enjoy. We’re at 1501 M Street; come see us sometime or check out our programs on www.chessctr.org.
U.S. Chess Center