By Laura Doman
Two months ago, the GCA created a GoFundMe page to financially help Georgia chess players represent our state in national and international tournaments. These competitions can be very expensive to attend, considering the significant cost to travel and lodge. The GCA awards stipends to attend these events to both adult and scholastic players at tournaments such as the Women’s Open, the Scholastic State Championships, and our World Youth Qualifiers, but our support has been limited due to budgetary constraints. We’d like to do more to help our tournament champions compete on the national and world stage. And we’d like to show them that their Georgia chess community is behind them 100% of the way. GoFundMe is a popular fundraising website that ensures that donations go directly to the intended non-profit organization or cause. In our campaign, all donations are directly deposited in a special fund designated only for player stipends.
As a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, the GCA works to promote and support chess in Georgia. Primarily, we host Open and scholastic tournaments throughout the year and award state championship titles to both adult and youth players, which often come with small stipends to encourage them to compete at the next level. We’d like to be able to offer more lucrative stipends to truly defray the travel expenses of playing in national and international tournaments. And we’d like to encourage more of our top players to compete and represent Georgia at these prestigious events. Our immediate goal is to raise over $8,000 for stipends this year, and we are nearly 20% of the way there. To show our sincere appreciation for our donors and to encourage others, we are periodically recognizing and publicly thanking those who have generously contributed to the GoFundMe initiative. This story highlights a creative way in which one individual worked with his company to generate a $500 donation.
Dhirendra Mishra, a senior software engineer with LexisNexis in Atlanta, leveraged his employer’s match program to donate $500 to the GCA by virtue of his volunteer work. LexisNexis encourages its employees to become involved in their local communities, and provides sixteen “care hours” for each employee every year. Dhirendra explained that employees can use these hours to provide volunteer work to any non-profit organization. If an employee volunteers an additional eight hours, LexisNexis donates $500 to any non-profit organization of the employee’s choice. The only stipulation is that the employee must have logged 24 hours of volunteer work before December 15 for the company to make the donation. The $500 donation is available through every employee who satisfies the above criteria, with a limit of one donation per employee per year. The program, however, is available every year to those who meet the volunteer requirements.
Dhirendra volunteered sixteen hours with the North Fulton Community Charities (NFCC), an organization strongly supported by LexisNexis, and eight hours with the GCA during the 2015 Georgia Grade Level Championship. He has also helped out with other chess tournaments, too. He chose to direct the $500 to the GCA after learning about the GoFundMe initiative on the GCA website’s homepage. “GCA is being run by an able team and supported by others. I am fine with however they spend the money.” Thanks, Dhirendra. 100% of your donation via GoFundMe is directed into a special account that is earmarked only for player stipends.
Currently, Dhirendra is working as a liaison between GCA president Fun Fong and LexisNexis’s Community Relations Director to explore a corporate sponsorship. “If it works out, it would be a great beginning for GCA as well as for LexisNexis. I suggest that others talk with their companies to see if they would be interested in sponsoring the GCA. It would be a win-win situation for both the GCA and its sponsors. By sponsoring the GCA, the company will come into contact with thousands of young, smart chess players who are good at their studies and skilled at solving problems. I am sure that these kids will remember the support provided by the corporate and give it back to them when that time comes.
If we can have a few corporate sponsors, chess in Georgia can improve manifold with more quality tournaments, better stipends, free coaching sessions a few times a year, and lower entry fees.”
Dhirendra has two sons, Prateek, 11, and Pranit, 8, who are active chess players and keep him involved as a chess parent. While he can sometimes find good moves that his sons fail to consider, Dhirendra admits that he’s no longer a match for them in a chess game. Both of his boys participate in most of the GCA’s scholastic tournaments and hold very respectable rankings: Prateek is rated 1864 and Pranit is around 1483. They are well known in their scholastic chess circles as strong players! We look forward to seeing Dhirendra and his family (pictured in the title photo) at many more tournaments to come.
The GCA also wishes to recognize Christopher Colombo, a very supportive chess parent who drives from Augusta to participate in GCA events held around Atlanta. His son Dominic (“Mickey”) is a fourth grader who won his section in the 2015 Georgia K-8 Grade Level Championships in November. As the fourth grade champion, Mickey received a stipend to compete in the 2015 National K-12 Grades Championship in Orlando in early December. The GCA’s scholastic committee describes his dad Christopher as an “awesome chess parent” and we couldn’t agree more! Thank you for contributing so generously to the stipend fund.
The GoFundMe initiative is the brainchild of GCA 1st vice president Katie Hartley, who first researched its use, created the appropriate bank account, and filed the required legal documents. Katie and her husband Skipper were the first to donate, followed by GCA president Fun Fong and the other board members. Thanks to all who have contributed to providing stipends for our Georgia chess players! We hope that others will consider visiting our GoFundMe site and help us reach 100% of our goal. Our chess champions will thank you!