Goodwill and Greater Johnstown School District Partner for Summer Programming

August 14, 2012, Press Release

JOHNSTOWN, PA, August 14, 2012—The common goal of Goodwill of the Southern Alleghenies and the Greater Johnstown School District of keeping young people engaged in structured activities during the summer months continues. One activity of this summer programming partnership involves the game of chess through Goodwill’s GoodGuides Youth Mentoring Program and the GJSD’s Pride and Tradition Program.

Both organizations tout that the benefits of playing chess include developing strategic thinking, encouraging social interaction, and sharpening the mind. Many studies promote the positive benefits of playing chess.

“It’s important for mentoring activities to continue in the summer when kids have more unstructured free time,” said Phyllis J. Bandstra, Goodwill’s President & CEO. “Chess provides a positive structured activity that teaches important life skills of social, emotional, and behavioral maturity; problem-solving; impulse control; consequences of actions; and planning correct actions to achieve a desired goal.”

Fifteen-year-old Jamie Kerr, a youth in the GoodGuides program has recently learned the game. “My friends think that chess is just a guy’s game, so I was even more determined to learn it,” she stressed. “I just kept watching them and learned to play very quickly.” In only her second time of playing the game, she almost won against one of her mentors, Ann Myatt James, an AmeriCorps member with GoodGuides.

The interest in playing chess has increased since the GoodGuides program started scheduling games at the high school. Now younger students in the district are playing the game at East Side Elementary.

Cyndi Ahlborn, Program Director, Pride and Tradition 21st Century Community Learning Center and Trojan College Access stated, “The Pride & Tradition Program, funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Centers provides opportunities of enrichment for students of the Greater Johnstown School District with the help of community partners. Goodwill Industries has been a partner with the program for 12 years, offering career exploration, mentoring, chess, and job opportunities to qualifying students.”

With the start of a new school year just around the corner, the GoodGuides Program, in collaboration with the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies’ Community Intervention Plan, will continue to offer open chess games at many safe haven sites around the community in conjunction with other mentoring activities.

For more information on Goodwill’s GoodGuides Youth Mentoring Program, please contact Cindy O’Connor, Program Manager at (814) 536-3536, ext. 304 or

Goodwill Industries of the Conemaugh Valley (GICV), Inc. is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1962 to empower individuals and families with employment barriers to achieve their fullest potential in the community through work services. Headquartered in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, GICV serves individuals with disabilities and disadvantages, dislocated workers, youth, and other job seekers throughout south central Pennsylvania in the counties of Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Huntingdon, Indiana, Somerset and a portion of Westmoreland by providing education and career services as well as job placement and postemployment supports. GICV is a community-based member organization of Goodwill Industries International, a 179-member network in the U.S., Canada, and 13 other countries. Learn more at
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