Headshot Photo of Henry Lien
2023 Award Recipient


Project ChessPals

Location Mill Valley, CA

Issue Area Education

Henry started playing chess at the age of six, and for his bar mitzvah project, he hosted chess classes at the elementary school across the street from his temple. Inspired by these classes, Henry started ChessPals in 2018. Since then, his organization has provided free chess education for over 800 children in eight elementary schools and three city-run camps across three school districts in Marin County. ChessPals envisions a world where all kids, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background, can learn and play chess – a game that supports increased academic performance, teaches lifelong skills like goal-setting and healthy competition, and also is a fun after-school activity.

ChessPals has five additional chapters throughout California, Texas, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. Initially teaching all classes himself, Henry now trains and manages a team of 14 high school student chess players in the Marin Area who teach chess at elementary schools that lack funding to support an after-school chess program. A majority of students in ChessPals classes are first-generation Latino students, a group largely underrepresented in the youth chess community.

As long as we can change the world for the better, no matter how small the scale, the work we are doing is worth it.

Henry Lien
Henry Lien plays chess with a young boy.



Chess Pals logoWith a personal passion for chess and all the strategic lessons it offers for life, Henry has committed to assisting students in low-income areas through ChessPals, giving others the same opportunities to benefit from chess that he had. ChessPals recruits and trains high school students to teach chess in elementary schools that lack the funding to support an after-school chess program. ChessPals also partners with local senior centers to provide chess to senior residents, helping to fight isolation and enhance mental alertness.

Henry Lien leaning over a chess board.
Headshot Photo of Henry Lien