Kampala, Uganda

SOM Chess Academy

SOM Chess Academy

The Opportunity

Disney’s Queen of Katwe tells the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan girl whose world rapidly changes after being introduced to the game of chess. Phinoa learned the game at SOM Chess Academy, an organization founded by Robert Katende. Robert grew up in the slums of Kampala but excelled in school and was lucky to attend university and break the cycle of poverty. Robert became involved in empowering youth through sports…his game of choice was chess. Robert’s chess project began with just six students. Today, there are over 100 children in the program and even more on a wait list hoping to learn the game that can change their lives.

You might be wondering…why chess? How can this game make a difference? Robert uses the game to teach children skills about life. Improving children’s education has always been the most important aspect of the chess academy. Many of the parents in Katwe can’t afford to pay school fees so their children either stop early or never go to school at all. Learning chess helps children to develop skills they wouldn’t have the chance to learn elsewhere. Through chess, Robert teaches children critical thinking and life skills such as abstract thinking and the ability to interpret situations and strategize. Weighing options, decision-making and using finite resources — these are all life skills that children learn from chess.

To learn more about the program, watch the video.

The Plan

Our grant will provide:

  • A permanent home for the SOM Chess Academy
  • Expand program capacity to reach 80 more youth
  • Hope and opportunities to vulnerable children in Katwe

The Reason

Phiona’s story is inspiring children throughout Uganda who now believe that they can achieve their dreams too. Since the movie’s release, the SOM Chess Academy has been flooded with children who would like to learn chess. The school does not have the capacity to help these children in their current location. They are renting five classrooms and are already at full capacity. Robert has identified a building that would be an ideal home for the Chess Academy. This new space will enable them to reach more children. Please help Robert achieve his dream to give these children the opportunity to reach their full potential.