About Us

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Mission Statement

Chess in the Schools fosters the intellectual and social development of low-income youth through chess education.

Boy playing chess at school

Why Chess?

At Chess in the Schools, we believe in the power of chess as a tool to change lives. To date, we have taught more than 500,000 of New York City’s most underserved children, inspiring them to greater achievement. Each day, we are proud to help kids grow, one move at a time. Our impact can be seen each year from the survey results of our classroom teachers:

  • 96% of teachers reported that chess had a meaningful positive impact on their students.
  • 89% of teachers reported that practicing chess increased students’ self-esteem.
  • 91% of teachers reported that practicing chess enhanced students’ cooperation skills.
  • 89% of teachers reported that chess enriched their students’ social skills.
  • 93% of teachers reported that chess developed their students’ problem solving skills.
  • 92% of teachers reported that learning chess improved students’ analytic and logical reasoning skills.

Photo Credit: Erik Bardin

Featured Event

CIS 30th Anniversary Benefit Celebration


Our annual Benefit Celebrations, which are always held at New York City’s most sought-after venues, have garnered support from Fortune 500 companies, celebrities, an array of impressive philanthropists, young professionals, and prominent community leaders.  A highly-anticipated…

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Frequently Asked Questions

Our Partners

Mike Walsh Peissis


President, Vetta Inc.

Lewis B. Cullman

Chair Emeritus


Mark E. Maher


VP/Counsel, Showtime Networks Inc.

Cody Smith


Retired Partner of Goldman Sachs & Co.

Kwadwo Acheampong


Director, Prudential Fixed Income

Nikita Bear


Director, Olympus Capital Asia

Lawrence B. Benenson


Principal, Benenson Capital Partners, LCC

Debbie Eastburn

President & CEO

Chess in the Schools

Gustave K. Lipman


Security Industry Executive

Daniel Ryan


Senior Manager, RCL Advisors, LLC

Andrew C. Smith


Partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Maurice Ashley

Ronald J. Daniels

Howard Dodson

Ellen V. Futter

Betsy Gotbaum

Vartan Gregorian

Agnes Gund

Paul LeClerc

Richard C. Levin

Arthur Levine

Robert MacNeil

John Merrow

Frank H.T. Rhodes

Charles E. Schumer

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Debbie Eastburn

Debbie Eastburn

President & CEO

Nicole Alston

Nicole Alston

Office Coordinator

Ronald Boocock

Ronald Boocock

Director, School Program

Chano LaBoy

Chano LaBoy

College Bound Director

Carmen Morales

Carmen Morales

School Program Manager

Shaun M. Smith

Shaun M. Smith

Director, Programs

Samantha Spina

Samantha Spina

Development Assistant

Will Staso

Will Staso

College Bound Coordinator