Developing Entrepreneurship from Humanitarian Ventures
Eight years ago a simple act of generosity started a movement that has provided youth with unprecedented creative opportunities. It began with Nina Sethi, who was volunteering as a teacher in the slums of Delhi, India. Nina met Meher, a 4-year-old girl who was a victim of severe burns that disfigured her hands and face. Nina was struck by Meher’s disability but she realized there was no help available in India for her. She knew that Chess Without Borders in Barrington, IL had a mission of combining education with service so she asked them to raise funds for Meher’s surgery. Youth at Chess Without Borders in collaboration with District 220 schools and local businesses raised funds to support surgery of Meher’s hands and face. The plastic surgeon in India was inspired by the efforts and donated his services. In fact youth at the Metropolitan School in Berlin Germany also helped raise funds for her surgery.
This video shows Meher before and after surgery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1ZwXA6osEo
Meanwhile as the humanitarian efforts became widespread, every year for the last 8 years Chess Without Borders has hosted a chess tournament where 100% of the funds raised support Meher’s education and run a computer center in this same slum.
This video describes the children from the slums using the computer center
As a result of this social entrepreneurship youth who served took on leadership roles in many areas such as public speaking, mentoring younger children, problem solving, team work, marketing, accounting, photography, technology, in addition to cooking, cleaning and running chess tournaments.
Presidential Youth Service Award winners have raised almost $130,000 for local and global charities through their social ventures. For the last 2 years they have raised funds for bringing a Christmas luncheon for x prisoners.
They have raised money and donated chess supplies to start chess clubs in underprivileged schools in Cambodia, The Marshall Islands, Borneo, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Chile, Sudan, India and Thailand. They have also donated funds to global charities for the last 12 years. They have won many awards for their work combining chess education with service and philanthropy including the Governors Award from the State of IL in 2006 and 2007 and were finalists for the Chicago Innovation Award in 2009.
Service transforms youth into creative machines. They are more driven when it’s done for others. As 11-year-old Ethan Gagliano said,” I want to do much more for others than myself”. Working in a team multiplies their efforts making their achievements successful, “beyond my wildest expectations”, said Rishi Sethi the founder of the program at Chess Without Borders.
Video directed by BHS Chess Team Coach Jeff Doles from the on founder Rishi Sethi here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gt3ggGr7pqQ
Watch this video to see how youth were impacted by their service:
The adult mentors on the team were:
Rishi And Dr Kalogeropoulos, Sethi (Founders)
Maggie Gruber Black, Nina Sethi, GM Yury Shulman, Zein Bertacchi, Jeff Doles and Adam Christian Gregory
The students on the team are:
Ethan Gagliano, Pranav and Prashant Ramachandra, Prathik Kandimalla, Jack and Jane Bradley, Vishal, Varun and Rohan Ahuja, Millen and Jeeven Srivastava, Eleanore van Marwijk Kooy, Kyla Smith, Aryan and Ayushi Shah, Toby Schwartz, Siddharth and Abhijeet Gehlaut, Yasoob and Nabeel Rasheed, Jack Bongiorno, Sanjaya and Sahitya Maheswaran, Lyle and Zach Green, Sophia Cai, Julie Ann Ashley and Sathvik Rachamarla
This program won the highest award for serving its mission.
Read here about the award:
”Congratulations on your students and administrators being selected as a Daily Point of Light Award honoree for your work empowering young children to make service a part of their lives through Chess Without Borders. The Daily Point of Light award is a national award that originated out of the White House in 1989 under President George H.W. Bush. It is given to exceptional volunteers who go above and beyond in their call to service. ”
Caroline Hendrix from Points Of Light
On Feb 22nd 2014 one hundred thirty eight chess players competed at the 6th Annual Hough School Chess Tournament where 100% of the proceeds was donated to 2 long standing charities adopted by the program. Thirty volunteers including GM Shulman and the Chief Tournament Director Jeff Weiwal donated their services. Almost $7000 was raised to benefit a little girl named Meher’s education and to provide support for the Maggie Gruber Computer Center. Another 300 people approximately visited the event.
The concept of accomplishing goals towards a common purpose motivated youth to create opportunities to raise funds. Eleanore van Marvijk Kooy, one of the CEO’s for the event cleverly designed a raffle with cash prizes to help raise funds. The other two CEO’s Jeevan Srivastava and Prathik Kandimalla joined in and went door-to-door in the cold employing their marketing skills to sell raffle tickets.
A big draw was our award winning Gourmet cook Zein Bertacchi and her sister Rima Said from Jordan serving and doing a live demonstration of Middle Eastern food. Beth Johansson who came especially for the cooking lesson with her sister said, “I am going home to make this today”. Volunteer Accountant for the day, 14-year-old Toby Schwartz said, “ I can barely keep up with taking the money from the sales of the Falafel orders”. There were many other youth and adults helping with the food sales including Toby’s parents who worked relentlessly to make pizzas and hot-dogs as well. Peter Chytia from the MacArthur Foundation whose son was playing in the tournament worked hard with volunteer Russel from BHS to help with the technology at the event.
16-year-old Lindsay and her younger brother Zach Green helped score the results and “barely had time to get out of their chairs” because 5 rounds of matches are held with many sections at the tournament. Based on the scores their next opponent is decided by the computer. These results are then sent to the US Chess Federation to determine the ratings of each chess player. This was an official US Chess Federated tournament.
Chess Tournament such as this one at Chess Without Borders become a celebration of achievements as chess players gather their USCF ratings, collaborate as workers, expand their experiences and express themselves artistically to raise funds for other children like themselves who have few opportunities in life.
A documentary has been produced on this project. This can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1ZwXA6osEo
On the basis of these long standing projects three high schoolers, Lindsay Green, Millen Srivastava and Varun Ahuja will represent Chess Without Borders at the UN Youth Assembly in New York this summer.
Three students also received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award from the White House because of their volunteer work over the past year with Chess Without Borders. These students were Ethan Gagliano, Peter Abrahamson and Bryce Cai.
This event has a tremendous impact on our students here in the US as chronicled in this article and in India for children living in the slums of Delhi. Perhaps Principal of Grove School, Dr Kalogeropoulos had this vision when she allowed her student Rishi Sethi to start a chess club in 1999. Rishi Sethi runs his own Data Insights Company in New York thanks to all the life lessons he learned from the District 220 Schools.
As illustrated in this article other students have discovered as well that there are:
“Promises to keep
And miles to go before you sleep” … Robert Frost
For more information go to: http://www.projectwhy.org/
Awards and Honors for the program at: http://shulmanchess.com/biography-of-chess-without-borders/
History of the project: secureafuture.blogspot.com
NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 2013
Welcome to our chess program that combines education with service
and philanthropy opening a world of opportunities for students
through becoming active learners by creating projects.
This newsletter shares the many creative projects undertaken by
students and the awards and honors won by our chess community.
Introducing the Chess Coach Certification program
Students who learn chess and complete the textbook written by GM
Shulman will be awarded a certificate. The book is available in both hard
copy or through the Apple ibooks at:
Each student who completes this textbook develops a skill and a Chess
Certificate honors the hard work, initiative and mastery of this skill level.
GM Shulman who is also the 2008 US
Chess Champion signs the award
certificate. In order to inspire students
to become service learners while also
acquiring a skill we asked students to
volunteer for a minimum of 20 hours in
order to qualify for this award.
Next Tournament is at St Anne’s in Barrington on 9th
Regular tournaments allow students to challenge themselves,
increase their USCF rating as well as fulfill the mission of the
program. We donated $325 to bring Children of Uganda’s musical
program to the US. All proceeds from the St Anne’s tournament
will go towards sending deserving students to the National Chess
Tournament. Registration forms for the tournament are available at:
December Group Lessons to be held at Salem United
Address of the new location is 115 West Lincoln Avenue, Barrington.
Mini camps will be held at this new location.
We are proud of our students who volunteer either through existing
projects or by creating their own projects. We write recommendation
letters and share news of their project in local and national
The following students have done a variety of service projects:
• Chess teachers Peter Abrahamson, Ethan Gagliano,
Richard Ni and Nadine Said taught at chess clubs last school
• Richard Ni BHS Junior attended the UN Youth Assembly
in New York representing Chess Without Borders. Once our
students turn 16 years old they qualify to attend this prestigious
Assembly because of the long-standing projects conducted
through CWB. More at: http://shulmanchess.com/local-projects.
• Nadine Said created a Documentary Screening project for
the documentary, “A Future for Meher” and raised $180 for the
Maggie Gruber Computer Center in India.
• Millen Srivastava did a documentary screening for MGCC
at the Student Council at BHS and 80 students watched the
documentary and unanimously voted to donate $500 for the
Maggie Gruber Computer Center.
• $50 donated by Aidan and Zander Kitchen through
selling DVD’s of the documentary.
• We follow the tradition of supporting both local and international
charities at our tournaments where 100% of the proceeds from
food sold. Our long-term sustained projects have won awards/
honors/scholarships/college admissions for students.
• Meher Hough School Tournament raised $4436.25 for
educating Meher and $2000 for Maggie Gruber Chess Center.
• $500 raised by BHS Student Council
• Hough School Chess Club donated $1579.35 for the MGCC.
• Donation made to Chicago Chess Center of $300 from the
chess camps and Dr Kiran Frey.
• Scholarships worth $1000 donated for Sunny Hill Chess Club
run by Ethan Gagliano and Alec Onker and adult
volunteers along with GM Shulman and other
• $1700 donated to the Hurricane Sandy rescue team from
Barrington through a Simultaneous Chess Tournament held
at the Salem Church in Barrington. GM Alex Goldin and IM
Viktoria Ni also volunteered along with GM Shulman to play 60
• Zein Bertacchi, an eternal
volunteer for Chess since its
inception will be catering
meals for people. She will
donate 20% of all proceeds
towards the Maggie Gruber
Computer Center bringing
education and computer
literacy to over 200 families from the lowest class of people.
Please visit www.grandmastercooks.com for more information.
Together we have donated $95,070.60 and this amount includes
$38,484.25 for Meher’s education and plastic surgery.
Our program and many students have won awards/honors and
recognition for this work.
The World Championship match between Vishy Anand and Magnus
Carlsen is two and a half weeks away. As was announced by FIDE,
the Candidates Tournament that will provide next year’s challenger
will be held 12-30 March 2014 in Khanty-Mansiysk, the Siberian city
that hosted several World Cups and an Olympiad before.
GM Shulman ties for 1st
Be sure to visit our Chess Photography Exhibit at Barrington Bank
celebrating our mission of education, service and philanthropy.
place at the Midwest Class Championships.
Chess Without Borders promotes intellectual development through service learning. Ethan Gagliano, a 4th grader from Countryside who is a candidate for the Presidential Service Award has been teaching chess to some of the residents at Lake Barrington Woods Senior Living. The benefits of this service experience translate into confidence and knowledge for both the teacher and the student. The human connection has an enduring effect on self esteem as well as the sharing of values such as caring, kindness and cooperation.
Picture of Ethan teaching residents.
Ethan has displayed initiative and an entrepreneurial spirit and we salute his service. We value the effort made by our students.
Chess is about strategy, planning and purpose. BHS student, Rich Ni who is the 2012 Presidential Service Award Winner embodies these qualities and more. Rich plays in the BHS chess team and has served as a volunteer for the Hough Street School for several years. As seen in this photograph Rich is thoughtful, funny, reliable, patient and hard working as he organizes and teaches in the club under teacher Maggie Gruber.
Last week the 5th Annual Hough School Tournament was held and almost $6000 was raised for the education of a little girl adopted by the chess program and the Maggie Gruber Computer Center. The computer center will bring technology and education to 200 families living in the slums of Delhi, India. Rich worked hard to make the tournament a success by serving as the Assistent Tournament Director, general organizer and handing out the 2013 awards to the 4 volunteers who will follow in his foot steps.
Rich will represent Chess Without Borders at the prestigious 2013 UN Youth Assembly in New York where he will meet other youth volunteers from around the world who have engaged in outstanding humanitarian projects.
We salute volunteers like Rich who make a difference in this world for others by their bold moves!
Ethan Gagliano a 3rd grader from Countryside School was so inspired by the story of little Meher that he thought of a creative way to raise funds to support her education. Ethan asked individuals to sponsor his chess matches. Each time he won the sponsors would donate $5 towards his charity. Ethan won all of his 5 matches raising $500 to support Meher’s education. Meher is as old as Ethan and he has developed an empathy with her through following the stages of her treatment.
Ethan on the right playing his match at the Hough Tournament
Ethan along with other students will be working towards earning the Presidential Volunteer Service Award given through the White House to honor volunteers. Ethan and Alec Onker are currently serving as assistent coaches for the Sunny Hill Chess Club.
Chess Without Borders salutes Ethan for his unique social entrepreneurship!
Ethan Gagliano from Countryside School and Alec Oker from Prairie Middle School in Barrington are learning the difficult art of teaching by organizing the chess club at Sunny Hill School. Chess Without Borders is sponsoring the chess club at Sunny Hill so that children at Sunny Hill can join the chess community as other students develop skills, host tournaments and serve at various humanitarian roles. Both students are learning to appreciate the responsibility and effort that comes with being a leader. They are responsible for organizing, pairing players, dividing them into groups, assessing each players skill level, cleaning up and motivating players to succeed in their matches!
Alec Oker on the left with a student
and Ethan Gagliano (standing) as he teaches.
Chess Without Borders is proud of the students at Countryside who are acquiring a new skill and our student leaders Ethan and Alec who are making this possible. Both of them are working towards a Presidential Service Award through their work over the next year. We honor their service.