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For two decades, the White-Plains based National Scholastic Chess Foundation has pulled together money each year to support chess classes and clubs for schoolchildren all over Westchester County.
Now, for the first time, the nonprofit organization is holding a fundraiser this weekend in Bronxville to raise awareness of its services and for money to support both new programs and current ones.
“A lot of what we do is (funded) through the generosity of our board members so we didn’t go out to the public,” said Sunil Weeramantry, executive director of NSCF. “What we wanted to do is just not have to raise our rates that much.”
Ossining pulled out of the program at the beginning of the school year because of money issues, which Weeramantry called “really disappointing.”
Elisabeth Harding of Bronxville, an NSCF board member, said her son benefitted from its chess instruction starting when he was a young teen.
“The NSCF operates on a break-even basis,” she said. “I’m hoping thatthe proceeds will provide a little cushion in the budget to smooth out the cash flow problems.”
The cost of a typical curriculum-based, 24-week program is between $6,000 and $8,000, Weeramantry said. The group hopes to raise enough to fund a program for a needy school district, but has not set a specific goal for the event, he said.
The NSCF is not the only chess organization in Westchester but it’s the largest. Since it was founded in 1990, it has trained thousands of children in recreational and competitive chess. These days, chess is part of the curriculum in White Plains, New Rochelle and Greenburgh Central 7 public school districts, at the Solomon Schechter lower school in White Plains, at Hunter College Elementary School in New York City and at both Greenwich Country Day and Greenwich Academy in Connecticut.
The organization also teaches chess in enrichment and community programs in 70 schools in Putnam and Westchester counties, from Yonkers and Mount Vernon to Cortlandt and Mahopac. About 4,000 children â€” about 80 percent in elementary school â€” are currently playing chess through the Foundation.