The Royal Oak Initiative (ROI)
What is The ROI?
ROI is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt social change and mentoring organization that uses the wisdom of chess to protect, heal, and build community by cultivating collective wellness, mindfulness, and critical thinking.
We pride ourselves on providing a unique "flavor" of culturally-magnetic chess programming centering new and non-traditional chess explorers of all ages. Let's make moves!
What We Do
Building community & helping youth develop a Royal Oak Chess (ROC) solid foundation.
Improve chess abilities and leadership skills through 10-12 weeks of leadership activities focused on community building, goal-setting, collective decision making, resilience, and resource management.
Receive supplies, training and ongoing support from ROI to launch and maintain weekly site-based chess clubs and leadership activities at your local school, library, faith-based organizations, or community center.
Gain a new perspective on the ancient game through immersive activities and discussion in our culture and community-focused workshops and events taking place at the 4C or other businesses & organizations.
Ernest Levert Jr, the Founding Director of The Royal Oak Initiative (ROI), has been playing chess since the 4th grade. Chess has provided him with a platform to connect with mentors, make new friends, explore different cultures, and empower his self-actualization. He hopes to share his experiences, expertise, and enthusiasm for the game of chess with youth and the young at heart from all walks of life.
ROI was launched in 2014 to sustainably equip under-served populations with the education and the resources needed to eliminate personal and economic challenges as obstacles to kineticizing their greatest potential. Beyond the benefit of developing critical and strategic thinking, ROI seeks to use chess as a fun and challenging foundation for stimulating growth in the areas of citizenship, stewardship, and leadership.
Exploring the Royal Game of Chess + Developing Mighty Oaks of Righteousness + Taking the Initiative to Create Change
Cooperative Chess Cultural Center (The 4C)
A Home to the Chess Explorer
80 Parsons Ave • Columbus, OH 43215
The Cooperative Chess Cultural Center (The 4C - pronounced "The Fork") serves as the home of The Royal Oak Initiative (ROI) and a gathering space for community. From the art that adorns the wall, to the community leaders that convene to connect through the wisdom of chess, everything about The 4C is focused on increasing wisdom and wellness in the minds and lives of chess explorers. Join the 4C with a monthly membership for coworking, event rentals, meeting space, and of course chess! In our chess community, everyone's peace is important.
Upper Cup Chess Community Open Play
2nd & 4th Sundays from 4:00 - 8:00 pm
Come play chess at the Cooperative Chess Cultural Center (4C - pronounced "The Fork") every 2nd and 4th Sunday. All skill levels are desired and everyone takes home an "L". Whether that is a lesson or loss, come connect with community. Good vibes only.
International Chess Day with Grandmaster Maurice Ashley
On Saturday, July 23, 2022, ROI hosted Grandmaster Maurice Ashely for the first ROI International Chess Day Celebration! Grandmaster Ashley inspired and engaged the Columbus Chess Community the entire day. He started the morning with "Chess & Coffee" at The 4C (pronounced "The Fork") followed by leading a chess workshop, delivering a keynote speech about his story, chatting with world-renowned negotiation expert Kwame Christian, culminating in the grand finale with Grandmaster Ashley simultaneously playing 20 people at once! We ended the day with "Chess, Art & Poetry" and a speed chess tournament at the OSU African American Extension Center.
Be sure to check out the video re-cap of International Chess Day!
The US Chess Federation (US Chess) is the official governing body and nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization for chess players and chess supporters in the United States. Here are some great resources for rated events: