With its complex rules and intricate strategies, chess is the ultimate game of the mind. But at Chess Challenge in DC, it is so much more -- a way to evaluate life decisions, solve hard problems, and strengthen one's character. For under-served elementary and middle school students, Chess Challenge promotes academic and personal growth through a chess-based curriculum. As they master the rules of the game, students learn to plan backwards from an objective and formulate a winning, multi-step strategy – and then to apply those skills to their academic work and personal lives. Children meet after school to fine-tune their game, develop literacy skills by reading and writing about chess, and work in teams to solve math and logic problems. Since 2008 the program has served more than 1,600 students across DC, focusing primarily on Wards 7 and 8, where 37% to 47% of kids live in poverty. These Chess Champions have the opportunity to learn from their past and form plans for their future – on the game board and beyond.

Headquarters: DC-Ward 3

Where They Operate: DC-Ward 1; DC-Ward 4; DC-Ward 6; DC-Ward 7; DC-Ward 8

Age Groups Served: Youth (5-11)

Ethnic Groups Served: African American; Caucasian; Latino/Hispanic

Population(s) Served: Students

Schools They Work In: Leckie Elementary School; Richard England Boys and Girls Club (#14); Achievement Prep Academy; Washingotn Middle School for Girls; MacFarland Middle School (Latin American Youth Center); Jefferson Middle Schooll; Cesar Chavez Public Charter School (Parkside Campus - MS); Latin American Youth Center - Teen Center; Friendship Public Charter School - Tech Prep MS; Brent Elementary School; KIPP DC - Key Academy; Stuart Hobson Middle School; Francis-Stevens Educational Campus; West Educational Campus ; Hart; SEED; Bruce Monroe

Awards & Recognition



  • Chess masters teach kids new tricks
    Wed Mar 21 2012, WTOP.com  
    Chess Challenge in DC invited three of the youngest chess masters in the US to play simultaneous games against 30 of our best students!

Budget (FY2013)

  • $3 million or higher
  • $1 million to $3 million
  • The current budget for Chess Challenge in DC is: $500k to $1 million
  • Less than $500k

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