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 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 is demonstrated by classroom teachers responses to our annual survey:

    • More than 96% of teachers reported that CIS’s chess program were effective and that they would want it to return.
    • 97% of teachers reported that chess had a meaningful positive influence on their students.
    • 85% of teachers reported that their students applied the lessons of chess beyond the chess board.
    • 91% of teachers reported the growth of analytical and logical reasoning skills in their students.
    • 82% of teachers reported improved understanding of math concepts.
    • 91% of teachers reported improved ability to concentrate.
    • 94% of teachers reported improved cooperation skills in their students.
    • 86% of teachers reported improved social skills and behavior in their students.
        2020 Survey
        Photo Credit: Erik Bardin

Featured Event

2021 Spring Charity Chess Challenge


2021 Spring Charity Chess Challenge Wednesday, June 9, 6.30-8.00pm EDT Join us for the special online tournament benefitting Chess in the Schools.  The evening, hosted by, will feature simultaneous games where participants will challenge several…

Learn more

Frequently Asked Questions

Mark E. Maher


Senior Legal Counsel, Spotify

Daniel Ryan


Managing Partner, Sincerus Advisory

Cody Smith


Retired Partner of Goldman Sachs & Co.

Kwadwo Acheampong


Senior Vice President, Account Management & Business Development, PIMCO

Lawrence B. Benenson


Principal, Benenson Capital Partners, LCC

Praju Doshi


Director, Credit Suisse

Debbie Eastburn

President & CEO

Chess in the Schools

Andy Lerner


Managing Partner, IA Capital Group

Chun Lin


Director, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Dhruv Sharma


Director, PwC LLP

Andrew C. Smith


Partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Dave Stein


Solution Architect, Adobe

Richard B. Wagner


Vice President,  ABILITY Network

Mike Walsh Peissis


President, Vetta Inc.

Anthony Sandrik


VP, Executive Recruiting, Carta

Jonathan Zald


Director, PJT Partners

Lewis B. Cullman

In Memoriam


Lev Alburt

Maurice Ashley

Ipek Bakir

Erik Bardin

John Bartholomew

Peter Bassey

Nikita Bear

Cohlie Brocato

Pascal Charbonneau

Nikken Cullman

Ronald J. Daniels

David Danziger

Howard Dodson

Kimberley Doo

Jon Edwards

Ellen V. Futter

Anna Ginzburg

Eric Gioia

Betsy Gotbaum

Agnes Gund

Evan Hunter

David Joerg

Roman Kazan

Richard C. Levin

Gustave K. Lipman

David MacEnulty

Robert MacNeil

Beatriz Marinello

Przemyslaw Matecki

John Merrow

Bruce Pandolfini

Shivan Persad

Aia Sarycheva

Charles E. Schumer

Jennifer Shahade

Shahnawaz Sheikh

Michael Shuman

Jacob Spitzer

Vanessa Sun

Stanley Switalski

Zack Weiner

Alexandra Wiener

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

Elena Ryabova

Elena Ryabova

Director of Development

Marissa Broomes

Marissa Broomes

Development Assistant

Shaun M. Smith

Shaun M. Smith

Director, Programs

Will Staso

Will Staso

College Bound, Manager