Food for Thought Software , Inc.
P.O. Box 100 • Highland Park, IL • 60035 • 800-205-4706 • fax: 847-433-6523 • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.schoolchess.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DOCTOR ISSUES CHESS CHALLENGE TO CORPORATE AMERICA
Partnership with A&E Television Network Helps Launch Campaign for Chess in Every School
Highland Park , IL, November 18, 2005 - When Dr. Stephen Lipschultz, an internist in suburban Chicago, volunteered to start a chess club at his kids’ elementary school, he never dreamed it would change his life. Almost 10 years later, in addition to practicing medicine, he now serves as president of Food for Thought Software – a small business that has sold his Think Like A King® School Chess Software System to more than 1,100 schools in over 15 countries. This outcome was all the more remarkable because Lipschultz was never a particularly passionate chess player. Instead, he was an early adopter of the perspective that chess could be an extraordinarily valuable educational tool.
“When it comes to developing thinking skills in kids, chess is great on so many different levels,” Lipschultz notes. “Every game is a mini-lesson in essential life skills because it requires you to stop and think before you act, to plan ahead as far as you can, and ultimately (because you can’t blame teammates or referees if you lose!), to take responsibility for your actions.”
Overwhelmed by the number of kids that showed up for the first sessions, Lipschultz searched for tools that would help him run his club. Finding nothing, and being a self-taught programmer in search of an interesting project, Lipschultz wrote some simple software himself. His intention was to use this solely in his own club, but when he saw the students’ response he realized others could benefit from what he had created -- and that there might even be a business opportunity as well. Over the next few years, Lipschultz received a $50,000 U.S. Department of Education Small Business Innovation in Research grant and, even more significantly, Think Like A King grew successful enough to become the Official Scholastic Software of the United States Chess Federation.
Lipschultz emphasizes that his goal is not to create a new generation of highly competitive grandmasters, but instead is to make it easy for schools to use chess as a vehicle to teach kids how to think. This is hardly a new concept, but with the Think Like A King tools, the opportunity for chess to become a varsity sport in any school becomes a reality – attracting scores of new kids because now it’s cool to play chess, and creating new role models and paradigms for success in life.
What makes Think Like A King unique is its multi-faceted approach to running a chess club, and its ability to let anyone develop a successful program even if they don’t know how to play the game. It’s not just the organizing or the teaching or the motivation; it’s about how all these pieces must come together in a way that engages students and sets up chess as a metaphor for life.
“When there’s a chess team winning games and bringing home trophies from tournaments, the rest of the school community suddenly encounters a whole new group of peer role models who demonstrate that successful thinking can earn the same kind of admiration usually reserved for gifted athletes,” Lipschultz emphasizes.
Lipschultz’s latest mission is to find a corporate sponsor who can help elevate scholastic chess to a nationwide sport on a par with youth soccer or the Little League. So strongly does he believe in the power of chess as an educational reform vehicle that, with Think Like A King making it so easy to implement on a national scale, he is sure the right sponsor could have tremendous impact on our nation’s schools. “There is already an incredible nationwide infrastructure of chess activity, involving huge numbers of parents and kids. All that’s needed is for an appropriate sponsor to recognize the good they can do for the country – and for themselves – by helping to make this wonderful activity even more visible.”
What’s in it for the sponsor besides corporate good citizenship? Probably some very real marketing opportunities! The British Land Company, a United Kingdom commercial property developer listed on the London Stock Exchange and valued at £10.6 billion, has sponsored the British Land UK Chess Challenge since 1996. By 2004, more than 70,000 students participated. In the US, with 58 million kids in more than 100,000 public and private K-12 schools (plus the parents who care deeply about their children’s education), the opportunities for the right company with the right message seem limitless.
The sponsorship model Lipschultz often refers to is the former Westinghouse Science Fair competition. When Westinghouse ended its sponsorship a number of years ago, the organizers initially worried about finding new funding. They needn’t have: a bidding war erupted between blue chip firms for the right to sponsor this prestigious event, and Intel ultimately won. There are now over 60,000 US high school kids participating every year. In China, however, the number of kids participating is 6 million.
“With this kind of gap between the US and the rest of the world in the training of future scientists, it is critical that we do everything we can to foster a culture that respects activities like chess, instead of trivializing them as the pursuit of so-called ‘geeks’” Lipschultz argues. “Schools alone cannot create the necessary cultural tone. We must change these attitudes at both the playground and the popular culture level if we hope to stay strong in an increasingly competitive world. Doing this requires the help of both the corporate and the media world.”
Some help may already be on the way. The A&E Television Network’s original film KNIGHTS OF THE SOUTH BRONX [see attached A&E news release] vividly demonstrates how chess can be a remarkable tool in shaping kids’ lives for the better. “This is not just a great film about a remarkable story,” says Lipschultz. “It’s a lesson to the rest of us that we already have the tools we need to make a difference. All we have to do is use them effectively.”
Interview Contact: Ms. Leslie B. Lipschultz, Vice President
Food for Thought Software, Inc.
P.O. Box 100
Highland Park , IL, USA 60035
Voice 800-205-4706 or 847-433-6515