July 31, 2011; Source: New York Post | For those of us chess duffers, New York City’s Chess-in-the-Schools has long been a nonprofit we all admire. We love the program that teaches chess to kids from 50 poor inner city schools.

So what are we to make of this brief article from the New York Post about Chess-in-the-Schools funding and salaries? Here are the facts:

  • The program received $266,214 in “member items” earmarks from 18 City Council members in the city budget adopted this year.
  • Chess-in-the-Schools has received $2,172,357 in city and state funding since 2006.
  • The executive director, Marley Kaplan, was highly lauded for sacrificing a six-figure Wall Street salary for a $25,000 part-time job, but now she makes $226,800 (more than the salary of New York City schools chancellor Dennis Walcott).
  • The VP for programs earns $131,000 and the VP of administration makes $95,870, but the 15 chess instructors earn only $25 an hour.
  • In 2009, the program began charging participating schools $2,500. The program had been free for the previous 25 years. Two schools apparently had to drop out due to the new fees.

One can imagine that the complexity of running a chess instruction program in multiple schools requires professional staffing and direction. The notion of running a program like this based on a largely volunteer model, particularly in the New York City public school system, doesn’t totally make sense in business terms. On the other hand, teaching chess in public schools has a voluntary feel to it. How do NPQ Newswire readers feel about Chess-in-the-Schools? —Rick Cohen