Program Overview









Chess for success is a youth development organization that has operated in Oregon and SW Washington for 24 years. We use chess instruction and play to positively impact school-aged children's academic, social, and personal skills. Our chess clubs provide young people with diverse backgrounds and abilities a dynamic framework for success in school and life. We emphasize a focus on underserved populations, including BIPOC, rural, and low-income communities.

Recognizing the different needs in the community, Chess for Success has three program offerings: CFS Classic, CFS Learning and Wellness, and CFS Play Grow and Learn. 

CFS Classic: This classic program is offered both in schools and in community centers throughout Oregon and SW Washington. Students receive two hours of instruction and practice per week from October to March from chess coaches trained with our trademarked curriculum. The students design their club shirts, and they receive a chess set and board to keep. CFS participants play in regional and state tournaments for free. We have several staff members who have experience in early childhood education and special needs education. They have contributed to the development of our training.


CFS Learning and Wellness: The foundation of chess instruction and practice are the skills practiced in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) - mindfulness, acceptance of situations, change-oriented strategies, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. Grounding instruction and interactions in Trauma-Informed Care principles and revamping the curriculum to emphasize DBT skills and practices have made a tremendous difference in student outcomes. CLW runs from October through May and uses our enhanced curriculum modified to accommodate a third day each week. The program will run for 75 to 90 minutes each day and consist of two days of chess instruction and practice. The third session of the week includes DBT exercises and a group mentoring session. However, the group discussion focuses on applying chess strategies/learned skills to the student's everyday life, not just gameplay.


CFS Play, Grow and Learn: Our camps get kids together outside and provide activities that encourage growth, physical activity, and pro-social peer interaction. In addition to chess instruction and match play, we have cardiovascular and extensive muscle group exercises, art, and team building activities. Team building exercises help our campers build friendships, create positive group culture, and teach teamwork. They reveal talents and strengths while fostering the benefits of quality play and active lives. Our Summer Camp Program Operations Director, who specializes in youth activities, has developed and oversees the CFS Play, Grow and Learn program. As a summer camp counselor at multiple camps, an outdoor school instructor, and now camp director, keeping kids active outside is their passion. They possess essential leadership and communication skills. She has received extensive training as a challenge course facilitator by Synergo. Understanding group dynamics, how they change, and how to sequence activities to appropriately reflect the needs and abilities of a group have provided her with a beautiful and unique style to add to our program. 


CFS Tournament Play: Chess for Success puts on 24 regional tournaments from January through March. In April, after the culmination of the regionals, the club members have the opportunity to compete in the State Tournament. Students must place in their regionals to qualify for state. In addition, Chess for Success sponsors the Vangie Shaw Girls Play Chess Memorial Tournament and the City of Portland Tournament.