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  • Writer's pictureLemuel LaRoche

Welcome to Chess and Community!

Updated: Apr 14, 2021

Hi there! We're thrilled that you're interested in Chess and Community. Since forming in 2009, our goal has been to shape the minds of the youth of Athens-Clarke County, teaching them useful life lessons and the values of being a contributing citizen to society. Wondering if our organization is the right fit for your student?

Here's a Q&A with our founder!

Lemuel LaRoche

Founder and Executive Director of Chess and Community

What is Chess and Community?

Chess and Community is a youth development 501(c) (3) non-profit organization founded in Athens, Georgia. Chess and Community equips, exposes, and impacts youth with real world experiences through mentoring, traveling, and community service. Our programs are designed to expand students' perspectives on life and develop them to become leaders in their communities. Our Motto, "Think Before You Move," challenges youth to take charge of their future and become instruments for change.

What life lessons could youth that participate in Chess & Community gain?

"Think before You Move" is our Motto and a lesson many youth gain by joining our organization. We provide real world/life experiences and lessons that youth can immediately apply in their communities and schools, while other lessons become transparent as they mature into adulthood. Chess and Community has 4 pillars focused on the wholistic development of youth. Students participate in debate, entrepreneurship, STEM, coding and they get to travel locally and internationally.

What would you say to coerce kids (parents) that think chess is lame?

The most important way of reaching a youth is to meet them where they are. Usually, youth are motivated by money and material things. For youth who believe chess is lame, I personally challenge them to a game and offer $100 dollars in cash if the kids beat me. This is usually a motivation that draws them to the table. While on the table, I allow them to see how society is run through the chessboard. This lesson sometimes intrigues the students. I associate the game with thinking and ask them if thinking is lame. When I show them how they are positioned on the chessboard, they usually change the conversation. They become more interested.

What’s in it for the kids’ enjoyment?

Students that fully participate in our programs are rewarded throughout the process. If students accumulate enough points, they get to travel to Washington D.C., all expenses paid. While in D.C., they visit the Nation’s Capital, enjoy various museums, malls, and more. Students also get to explore new experiences such as kayaking, climbing mountains, and hosting annual parties and events.


Here's just a fraction of what your kids can do through Chess and Community!

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