Chess is a lot like life, according to Eric Bullock, CEO and Founder of Culture is Key. It involves making moves, patience, critical thinking, and unforeseen consequences when actions are rushed.

“With the game of chess, you learned so much patience. You learn how to think independently. You learn confidence within yourself,” Bullock said. Every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 a.m. Culture is Key hosts chess matches for Trenton’s young minds, ages 7 to 10, for just a ten dollar admission. Bullock and his team of mentors sit down one on one with Trenton children to teach them how to play and advise them what moves to make to win the game.

Trenton native Allen Killebrew is a mentor who knows how to play the game and also coached several kids on maneuvering tricky plays. “This is just something I love to do and that’s the reason why I’m here,” Killebrew noted.

Culture Is Key associate Dana Corbell is a student at TCNJ, who loves to volunteer with the organization. “Everything that they are doing, I love it. I’m not even from Trenton… At the end of the day, just seeing kids prosper is kind of like a big thing to me…and they’re all having a great time,” Corbell said.

Culture is Key has been conducting COVID surveys, checking children for symptoms, adhering to mask guidelines, and socially-distancing as much as possible. “Because of the small sizes, we eliminate the mass spread of COVID, and that’s something that is just super important,” Bullock said.

The organization is planning on restarting the program in February by adding more mentors and allowing both boys and girls to learn the intricate game of chess. Eric’s father Edward Bullock is one of those mentors leading the charge.

“The leadership skills that the kids are learning go beyond chess to strategies… and I’m talking to them about when you make a move their are consequences, just like in life… Some are positive, some are negative. So think carefully before you make that move. And that’s an important lesson,” Edward said.