18 Under 18 Highlight: Prateek Pinisetti

Posted in: 18 Under 18, JA Impact

In our Junior Achievement 18 Under 18 recipients series, we’re next highlighting Prateek Pinisetti. A national chess champion who started his own nonprofit to teach students how to play chess, while also raiseind money to alleviate poverty. We are honored to recognize him. Read on the hear why he was selected as an inaugural Junior Achievement 18 Under 18!

Prateek Pinisetti, BASIS, Chandler, 17 years old 

Prateek, a national chess champion, made an important calculation during a chess tournament four years ago: Chess can be profitable. But Prateek doesn’t take in the profits himself. His charity donates the money across the globe.

“I’d been playing chess for many years in many tournaments,” he said. “After playing for that many years, I wanted to do something to give back.”Prateek formed ChessHelps, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that teaches hundreds of young chess players and raises money from chess tournaments to support its mission of alleviating poverty through chess. From the donations, Prateek’s group has donated to BASIS Chandler’s teacher’s fund as well as Kiva, a micro-lending organization that helps people in the developing world.

“The nice thing about Kiva is that since it’s a loan, it gets paid back to you eventually, so then you can re-lend the money and keep helping people,” he said. Since its inception, ChessHelps has raised approximately $55,000. And the charity will continue after Prateek graduates.

“I’ve already found someone who can replace me,” he said. “And hopefully, I can continue it wherever I end up in college.”

What do you want to be doing in 10 years? Hopefully I’m still playing chess and am still running the ChessHelps tournament. I see myself still teaching chess. I’ve figured out what I want to do, and I’ve started a career in that field

Who’s your biggest inspiration? My first chess coach. I learned how to play chess when I was very young, 3 or 4 years old. I hated it for the first few years. But then I got to a new elementary school. Coach Sean was absolutely fantastic and helped me discover my talent. When I try to teach other people, I always think of him and he’s my inspiration.

What’s the best advice you’ve received? It’s not enough to learn form your victories. You also must learn from your losses. It applies to chess and life. If you only look at what you’ve done well then you’ll never improve.