Johnny Means and Joe BidenOur youngest Mover & Shaker is a 16 year old high school student, also known as “The Chess Boss”.  He’s epically changing the way kids are thinking one chess game at a time. This Delaware Military Academy student shares his knowledge and love of the game after school at the Neighborhood House. He’s a visionary, an innovator and he sees the big picture which includes the results of learning and practicing chess -improved test scores, greater patience and strategical thinking skills. He’s engaging kids and keeping them off the streets. The powers that be are taking notice and Johnny is one step closer to his goal: which is to foster a statewide chess program in Delaware schools starting with low income. We are proud to spotlight Wilmington’s own, Johnny Means as a Top 10 North Delaware Mover & Shaker of 2015.

“Philadelphia has in-school weekly programs offering chess, and Philadelphia is the 7th largest school system in the country. So we should be able to duplicate the same thing in Delaware.” Johnny Means

To expand his Chess Initiative throughout the City of Wilmington, he devoted his summer to working with the Wilmington Parks & Recreation team teaching chess to kids who were enrolled in their Summer Food Program. The innovative program has been praised by both Delaware Senator Chris Coons, and Delaware Governor Jack Markell. He even beat Markell in a game!

Johnny Means with Chris Coons

What’s more, Johnny was selected to be the National Child Awareness Month Ambassador for the State of Delaware through a competitive application process.  He was chosen based on the quality of his project proposal and its potential to create substantive, large scale change on behalf of young people in Delaware.  The National Child Awareness Month program, a project of YSA (Youth Service America), is spearheaded by the Festival of Children Foundation to raise awareness about issues affecting children and encourages the nation’s youth to take action. One child from each state is selected to represent all 50 states and the District of Columbia as the National Child Awareness Month Youth Ambassadors.

“I believe kids are an investment and we can either invest now or later. If kids have the support, they can boost test scores, stay out of trouble and do something positive! This needs to be supported. People can either support kids now or we can pay for some of these same kids to sit in jail.”

Posted by Wilmington Urban Chess Initiative on Sunday, November 15, 2015

Johnny’s Awards, Grants & Acknowledgements

  • Wilmington Award~ His sister won one too!
  • Giving Back IDEA Award for Charter Schools
  • $500 Disney Friends for Change Grant
  • National Child Awareness Month Ambassador

Windows on Wilmington Segment Featuring Johnny


Top 10 Revealed Movers & Shakers North Delaware 2015

Q&A with Johnny Means

NDH: The person who nominated you gave us 3 reasons why you should be nominated as a Mover & Shaker. Now we would like to hear it from you. Tell us three reasons why you are a Mover & Shaker.

Johnny: I volunteer my time to the Homework Help program and initiated a chess learning program for students. I applied for and won several grants, totaling $1500, to fund new chess boards and pieces which I donated to the Neighborhood House. I am 16 years old and I want to make my
community a better place.

NDH: For which achievements are you most proud?

Johnny: I am most proud of winning the IDEA AWARD and The Wilmington Award and meeting Gov. Markell, Sen. Coons, Sen. Carper, VP Joe Biden. I just started my own non-profit Wilmington Urban Chess Initiative/ Making the Right Move, which I am quite proud of too.

Johnny Means with Jack Markall

NDH: Can you share how your involvement has impacted an individual or the North Delaware community?

Johnny: I helped teach many kids the wonderful game of chess, which encourages strategical thinking, academic achievement and social skills.

NDH: Movers & Shakers are visionaries. What projects are you working on for future achievement?

Johnny: I am working on having a rated chess tournament for 100 kids.

NDH: Have you faced any serious challenges along the way that you would like to share?

Johnny: Yes. The kids did not like chess at first because they never heard of it so I had to get them engaged to play. Some of them had attention & behavior issues so I had to tell them about my trophies etc. to get them excited to play. I also ordered chess books that explained things in detail since some needed more help than others. Most of all, I just had to be patient and realize that everyone learns at a different pace. I learned a lot about myself also- I love to teach and I love helping people in my community.

Johnny Means

NDH: What local organizations, events or clubs are you currently involved with?

Johnny: I am involved with the Neighborhood House, Kuumba Academy, Delaware Military Academy as Chess Club President, Chess Masters of Delaware, American Democratic Association, Wilmington Education Improvement Committee, Brandywine Chess Club, and Delaware Youth Chess Organization.

NDH: Who or what inspired you to get involved in those organizations? And, how did they inspire you?

Johnny: Drew Serres and Dr. Tony Allen. Drew told me about the American Democratic Association
since he knew I was into politics. Dr. Allen learned about my chess initiative and
nominated me to be on the board for the Wilmington Education Improvement Committee (WEIC).

Johnny and TonyNDH: Do you have a mentor?

Johnny: Yes, Drew Serres, Dr. Tony Allen, and Chess Masters of Delaware Coach Greg Rogers.

NDH: How do you feel about being named as a Nominee of Movers & Shakers in North Delaware?

Johnny: Very honored to be with an amazing group of people helping our communities.

NDH: Other details you want to share?

Johnny: I received the Disney Friends for Change Youth Grant through YSA (Youth Service America). The grant will support a unique community service project I’m working on for Global Youth Service Day (GYSD). I am one of 125 children and teens across the country who were awarded grants to lead projects that make a positive, lasting change in the world. I have been chosen as one of 51 Youth Ambassadors selected from a nationwide pool to attend a 3-day event during National Child Awareness Month in Washington, D.C.

Connect with JohnnyJohnny Means

Thanks Johnny!

For all you do for our North Delaware communities and beyond. #lovelocal

A Big Thank You to Budget Rooter, Sponsor of Movers & Shakers 2015.

Budget Rooter Logo AugustBudget Rooter was established in Delaware in 1992 by Suzanne & Jeff Palady – a hard-working mother/son team with little more than $500.00 and a healthy dose of determination & drive.

Their mission?  To provide excellent service at a fair price, to remain committed to the environment, and to treat their customers with integrity and respect.

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