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UMB Bank Lends Support to Scholastic Chess Program

UMB Bank has pledged $7,500 to support chess in under-served schools in Saint Louis this year.

The Chess Club’s Scholastic Chess Initiative has been growing steadily over the past six years, delivering impactful educational programming to students across the socio-economic spectrum -- and now it’s finally getting some corporate backing.

UMB Bank has pledged $7,500 to support chess in under-served schools in Saint Louis this school year, a grant that will directly support more than 120 students at KIPP Victory Academy. Beginning on Feb. 23, eight classrooms of students predominantly in kindergarten and first grade will receive nine weeks of instruction through the Chess Club’s scholastic chess program.

"We are so pleased to support the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis in their efforts to bring this fun and educational game to youth in our community," said Tom Chulick, Chairman and CEO of UMB Bank St. Louis and president of UMB Bank Midwest Regions. "Much more than a game, we believe the Chess Club is truly a creative and important program that helps children develop many skills critical to learning, planning and cooperation."

Tony Rich, the Chess Club’s executive director, said UMB Bank’s support of the Scholastic Chess Initiative represents an important milestone in the history of the Chess Club.

“Having this corporate support is fantastic validation for the effectiveness of our scholastic chess programming,” Rich said. “It demonstrates that the community is recognizing the benefits chess can offer developing students, and we hope UMB Bank is just the first of many corporate supporters to join us in improving educational opportunities for area students.”

KIPP Victory Academy opened just last year and is part of a larger network of Knowledge Is Power Program of nationwide charter schools. KIPP Imagine Academy opened in 2009 and two others, KIPP Triumph Academy and KIPP Wisdom Academy, will open this fall. Supported by Washington University, KIPP Saint Louis eventually plans to serve more than 2,500 students.

From the school’s website:

“KIPP St. Louis enrolls students from every zip code in the city, and aims to bring the opportunity for quality education to those students living in areas without access to high-performing schools. Ninety-eight percent of our students are African-American, 89 percent qualify for free and reduced-price meals, and 11 percent qualify for special education services.”

Since the Chess Club opened its doors in 2008, we’ve impacted the lives of thousands of area students in hundreds of classrooms and community centers across the greater Saint Louis area. We hope UMB Bank’s leadership will light the path for increased corporate support of chess programming in Saint Louis, which offers a valuable and engaging educational tool for area teachers.

For more information on corporate chess support, please contact me at