Oppenheimer Family Foundation
Education Opportunities

Offering experiential learning for Chicago Public Schools

Chess For A Cause

The Chicago Chess Foundation (CCF) was formed in 2014 with a mission to provide chess instruction and competitive opportunities to all Chicago students at low or no cost. The CCF Board of Directors includes successful chess coaches, program directors, parents, administrators and members of the financial community. During 2015 CCF established bylaws, elected officers and gained IRS recognition as a tax-exempt organization. CCF also reached a partnership agreement with Chicago Public Schools, committing the foundation and the school district to boost the number of students and schools participating in chess, diversify scholastic chess programming, and expand competitive chess activities.

CCF believes that chess can have a transformational impact on the academic and personal lives of children throughout Chicago. Chess has a unique ability to rivet children’s attention and simultaneously teach important life skills. Forty years of research has shown that chess improves test scores, academic performance, concentration, decision-making, creativity and problem solving. Chess is also recognized as a tool for improved social skills and violence abatement.

Despite the significant benefits available through chess, Chicago is far behind other major cities. The New York Times highlighted Chicago’s deficiencies in a Dec. 28, 2013 article noting that New York, Miami, Seattle, Portland and Brownsville, Tex. host more scholastic chess programs and send more students to national tournaments than Chicago. The Times lamented, “it is unusual for a city as large as Chicago, with 2.7 million people, to have only one school enter a tournament as prestigious as the K-12 Championships.”

CCF is developing several strategies for meeting the chess challenge in Chicago:
Build Capacity.  CCF will recruit, train and mentor teachers, chess players, parents and volunteers to build a robust scholastic chess culture throughout Chicago. 
New Programs.  CCF will provide startup advice, training and resources to new club directors, coaches, and school administrators. A key example is CCF’s Rook, Rattle & Roll program, which will provide instructional material, mentoring and opportunities for competitive play to schools without scholastic chess programs.
Making Chicago Competitive. CCF will develop high-quality tiered coaching aimed at students at all levels of ability. Stronger coaching will help clubs build capacity and participate in state and national championships.
Tournaments. Together with the Youth Chess Foundation of Chicago, CCF will host free scholastic chess tournaments available to elementary and high school students across Chicago.
Chess Leagues and Online Matches. CCF will host a high school chess league to bring the excitement of team versus team matches to more students. 
Summer Camps. CCF will host free or low-cost summer camps, giving Chicago students opportunities to enhance their skills during the summer holiday.
Online Resources.  CCF will build a comprehensive package of online resources benefitting coaches, players and parents.
Partnerships. CCF will establish partnerships with libraries, universities, museums and other cultural institutions to provide settings and opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds to participate in competitions and special events.
Raise Funds. To cover programming costs, CCF will raise funds from foundations, corporations and private donors who share our vision.

The Chicago Chess Foundation is anxious to supercharge the Chicagoland chess community. With the help of dedicated coaches, teachers and parents, CCF is committed to providing every child in Chicago with opportunities to explore chess without worrying about cost.