Most people in America may remember Shaun Alexander as #37 for the Seattle Seahawks in the National Football League. After gaining star status and leading his team to the “Super Bowl,” Alexander has moved on and is now a free agent. One thing that many do not know is that Alexander is a chess enthusiast and has given to chess causes during his storied career.
A couple of years ago, ChessBase.com ran a story of Alexander and his involvement with the Seattle chess community including the America Foundation for Chess (www.af4c.org). The Shaun Alexander Foundation, (www.shaunalexander.org) issued a US$7,500 grant as part of a key initiative to inspire kids for educational excellence and career planning. Continuing in generous vein, Alexander has now given US$25,000 to AF4C for chess programs in his home state of Kentucky. Chess is already part of a nationwide initiative for integration into school curricula. The press release reads,
America’s Foundation for Chess trains teachers to incorporate one hour of chess into their curriculum every week through its “First Move” program.
“Chess is a terrific game to help children become better thinkers,” says Shaun Alexander. “That’s why we are teaming up with America’s Foundation for Chess to help bring the game into Kentucky’s second and third-grade classrooms.”
“We are very grateful for all the support we receive from Shaun Alexander,” says Rourke O’Brien, president of AF4C. “His generous contributions are helping our program reach more teachers and students across the country.”
Many studies have shown that chess helps advance children’s critical thinking skills and test scores. A study on the New York City School Chess Program found that students who learn chess show dramatic improvement in their ability to think rationally. Students who participated in school chess clubs at four Houston-area schools improved their math and reading scores at twice the rate of other students.
The article also mentions Alexander’s relationship with “a school principal from Philadelphia who serves as an educational representative on AF4C’s board of directors.” That principal would be Salome Thomas-EL who has made news with his book, “I Choose to Stay.” It is a story of Thomas-EL’s efforts in using chess as a tool to help at-risk students in the inner city of Philadelphia. Alexander, who has three kids of his own, would like to see chess become a way to help channel the energy of young, active minds.
Shaun Alexander pushes a few pawns with a student
from Seattle’s Madrona school.
Photo by John Henderson.