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:

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:

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

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