When was CHESS founded?
The idea was born in March of 2019, and within three months, CHESS had been granted IRS recognition as a 501(c)(3) public charity organized for religious and educational purposes.
Why was CHESS founded?
Our founding families perceived a need for "non-academic" enrichment classes that would be open and affordable* to all Christian homeschooling families regardless of family size and/or special needs. Our co-op is compatible with any and all curricula and homeschooling philosophies, and we can accommodate a wide range of special needs.
*Please be aware that co-ops with lower membership dues almost always lack any insurance coverage. (See the "Costs" section below for a breakdown of how our families' membership dues are spent and the impact group insurance has on every member.)
What is required of co-op member families?
Cleaning: Each family is assigned to help clean the church after co-op 2-3 times each semester. It takes just 15-30 minutes. Duties include vacuuming the classrooms, wiping down tables and sinks, and gathering trash. Click here for the Cleaning Schedule.
Volunteering: We are an all-volunteer co-op, so we do ask all members to contribute in some way. Co-op member families must earn ___ volunteer points each semester.
What is required of social & support group member families?
We are an all-volunteer co-op, so we do ask all members to contribute in some way. Social & support group member families must earn ___ volunteer points each semester.
Am I required to teach in order to participate in co-op?
At this time, we are incentivizing teaching rather than requiring it. We reserve the right to require teaching in the future if circumstances should call for it.
Can we send our child with another family?
For social events, parents may bring one another's children and/or invite friends. That parent is responsible for those children at all times!
For co-op, we do not allow this option as a general rule. However, we reserve the right to permit a limited number of members in good standing to send their children in with another family due to extenuating circumstances, and we reserve the right to rescind the privilege if it becomes a burden on the co-op.
No matter the circumstances, all families are expected to perform volunteer responsibilities.
Note: Children must be at least seven (7) years old to attend without a parent and must be assigned to the care of another willing adult. This adult assumes full responsibility for your child in your absence and may require additional paperwork.
Is the CHESS-Board paid or otherwise financially compensated?
No. Absolutely not. We are a 501(c)(3) public charity highly accountable to various reporting agencies. We charge *just* enough to cover our required expenses such as “rent”, insurance, minimal administrative costs, and necessary supplies. In fact, two of the several reasons we don’t employ outside teachers are for the sake of minimizing membership dues and reducing related compliance costs and the workload on our volunteer treasurer who would otherwise be responsible for payroll accounting.
Furthermore, the >$500 in filing and other costs to become 501(c)(3), solicit donations, and promote the group were out-of-pocket expenses to the founding families. The hundreds of hours invested into paperwork, website and social media development, devising a workable budget, setting up suitable accounting and enrollment systems, drafting and revising policies and procedures, etc. were all completely uncompensated labors of love.
Each and every week, we spend several collective hours responding to phone calls and emails from members and prospective members, donors and prospective donors, and the general public; balancing the books; tracking volunteers; reporting to outside entities; etc. We do this because we have a passion for creating and fostering a true community that our local homeschooling families can rely upon.
So, thank your CHESS-Board, and thank them often. Not only is your gratitude their sole compensation for all they have done and continue to do…it’s also the best compensation.
How did CHESS settle upon the amount of annual family membership dues? Shouldn’t a non-profit volunteer organization meeting at a church be free?
- Insurance premium = $732/yr
- Insurance deductible = $500/occurrence
- Love offering (to the host church) = $50/family/yr
- Website = $35/yr + $8/family/yr
- Background checks = $5.75/adult
- Supplies (allergen-free snacks and special events) = $2.50/child
We prefer our families to commit to a full year because planning is greatly simplified for our teachers and coordinators when student numbers remain relatively constant from fall to spring semesters.
We can charge a flat family rate on account of how our insurance is structured. Adding or removing a child or two per family here or there doesn’t change our premium, and we enjoy being a rare instance of not charging per child, which gives our larger families a much-needed financial break.
When or if you find what seems to be a comparable option at a substantially lower rate, you’re virtually guaranteed to be looking at an uninsured group that is putting itself, its host venue, and its members at considerable risk. (Read more in our answer to the insurance question below.)
CHESS is committed to protecting our member families, our host church, and our organization.
Why should I be willing to pay extra for a co-op that’s fully insured? Doesn’t insurance just protect the organization itself and maybe its leadership? How does insurance benefit me as a general member?
Suppose one of your children breaks or otherwise damages something at the host church (a window, some AV or music equipment, a piece of furniture, etc.) that your family can’t afford to repair or replace out-of-pocket. The host church requires immediate repair/replacement, and the co-op has no deposit on record with the host church nor funds immediately available to cover the cost of repair/replacement.
At the very least, your family may be kicked out of the co-op in an attempt by the co-op to show the host church that at least it took action to hopefully prevent another such incident in the future.
At worst, the host church may decide that the co-op presents too much of a risk...and kick the co-op out.
And that's just the property angle.
Now imagine that a child suffers an injury during co-op that requires hospitalization. Did you know that even if the parents specifically stipulate that they do NOT wish to sue the co-op and/or the host venue, the parents’ private medical insurance will almost always sue one or both parties? When this happens, it often spells the death of uninsured groups.
By being fully insured (not just at our host church during enrichment classes, but wherever and whenever we go in the name of CHESS), we are protecting your family from demands that you be kicked out when/if an unfortunate accident happens, and we are giving our host church a compelling reason to overlook the occasional unfortunate incident. (We also have a $500 deposit on record with our host church so that they need not wait on insurance payouts.)
So, is it worth it? Ultimately, that decision is up to you. But you may be interested to know that while our membership dues may be higher than some other groups, we also offer a unique option that could make your family’s membership FREE from year to year. You won't have to sell anything, and there’s no extra time commitment beyond a few minutes of one-time initial set-up. Contact us for more info if you’re interested.
Are there any discounts?
If you are approved to lead a class, you will qualify for a 15% discount.
If you teach two classes (one in Fall and one in Spring), you will qualify for a 30% discount.
Does CHESS offer scholarships?
Yes! You can apply for a need-based scholarship here. Amounts granted may vary from family to family and from year to year for any given family according to demonstrated need and available funds. Regardless of available funds and/or a family’s financial situation, scholarships are capped at the same discount given for teaching one class during a co-op year (15%). However, scholarships stack along with teaching discounts. Thus, the recipient of a 15% scholarship who teaches a class each semester would only pay 55% of the normal cost of membership.
What does my child need to bring each week?
Each student needs to have a backpack with the following age-appropriate items labelled with his/her name:
- a folder with notebook paper for each class
- pencils and/or pens
- crayons, markers, colored pencils, and/or highlighters
- a pair of scissors
- glue sticks
- a ruler
- a calculator
- any supplies listed in their class descriptions
- gym shoes and socks (if the student is taking a physical activity class)
Please take inventory of these items a few times each semester to swap out dried up glue sticks and/or replace lost colors.
What if my child doesn't want to take any of the classes offered for his/her age during a certain hour?
You will most certainly encounter this situation at some point if you are a longtime co-op member! Please remember, however, that as a parent-led co-op, selections will vary widely from semester to semester. And the classes your kids love will more than make up for the few that they don't. Remember, even if your student doesn't love every subject, chances are s/he will still have a lot of fun making friends and trying something new.
Here are some options to help ensure your child has the best experience possible:
- Look at the classes one grade level up or down to see if you can find a better fit for your child. You may contact that teacher directly to ask if s/he is willing to make an exception and allow your child into that class. (Consult the Member Directory for email addresses).
- If a class seems too challenging, ask the teacher if you can revise your child's workload or skip the homework. If a class is not sufficiently challenging, supplement it with your own assignments. Our teachers really do want their students to learn and enjoy themselves, and they will most likely work with you to find a happy medium!
- If your child is older, s/he may offer to assist in another class as a teacher's helper.
- Finally, offer up a class of your own! (This option must be approved by the board and pursued prior to registration opening.)
Will the teachers assign homework?
Although our classes are primarily focused on enrichment rather than academics, students in certain classes will occasionally be expected to complete certain readings, watch certain videos, etc. independently outside of co-op time. Rest assured that our teachers strive to keep any necessary co-op "homework" to a minimum. We never want co-op to compete with your family and/or school time, and we always want to keep co-op fun.