The Awesome Foundation for the Arts and Sciences Atlanta chapter has selected the S.M.A.R.T. Moves chess program as the first recipient of its monthly $1,000 grant.
The foundation picked S.M.A.R.T. (Science, Math, Arts, Reading and Technology) because of its efforts to mentor troubled youths.
“Everyone had great things to say about this chess club. Mr. Mustafa Mahdi has offered chess classes and programs in several locations in the metro area and has funded them out of his own pocket,” said Dionne Mahaffey, founder of Awesome Atlanta. “He is teaching amazing life skills to these young men with the power of chess. He buys the chess pieces, boards and timers on his own.”
Mahdi, who is employed as a juvenile court officer in Fulton County, started the chess program about two months ago. He says about 25 teens participate on a regular basis.
“We meet every Friday at the Juvenile Court, from 5 to 8 p.m. Our slogan is teach young men to make Smart Moves in Chess and life. Our mission is to provide activities, services and mentors to prepare males for the challenges of manhood and responsible fatherhood,” said Mahdi.
Mahaffey said Awesome Atlanta plans to award a total of 10 grants this year totaling $10,000. Awesome board members contribute their own money to support causes and ideas that they deem worthwhile.
“Awesome” was founded by a group of Harvard students who wanted to make an impact in Boston. They built a community hammock on campus that could hold 20 students at a time. The project set a record for the world's largest portable hammock
Mahaffey liked what the Awesome Foundation was doing around the country so much that she decided to start an Atlanta chapter. She is the first African American to head a chapter of the Awesome Foundation, which has 93 chapters around the world.
“Collectively, the chapters have awarded $948,000 to 948 projects,” said Mahaffey. “Aside from helping nonprofits and ordinary people with great ideas, what also makes the foundation awesome is that each chapter is comprised of 10 to 15 board members who give their own money.”