Meet Tanitoluwa Adewumi


Tanitoluwa E. Adewumi was born on September 3rd, 2010 to Kayode and Oluwatoyin Adewumi family. Before he moved with his parents to United States, he won two trophies in his first grade for interschool race. At age four, he told his parents that he wanted to become a pilot in future. His parents were not really surprised because he is a very brave, brilliant and intelligent boy.

Tanitoluwa and his family fled northern Nigeria in 2017, fearing the attacks by Boko Haram Terrorists on Christians. So Tanitoluwa, his parents and his older brother (Adesina Austin Adewumi) arrived in New York City, USA and a pastor (Pastor Philip Falayi) helped them to a homeless shelther. 

He was enrolled into P.S. 116 in Manhattan, NY and he was introduced to the school chess club by coaches Shawn Martinez and Russell Makofsky. Tanitoluwa enjoyed the game and asked his mom (Oluwatoyin Adewumi) if he could join the chess club. A note was sent from the school that Tanitoluwa was really interested in chess, and could be registered. In the process of registration, his mom found out she had to pay some fees, which she could not afford to pay because the family was living in a shelter. She explained to the school Chess Director. The director waived the fee and gave a full scholarship. It was sometimes tough for Tanitoluwa. He once came home from school crying after a classmate teased him for being homeless. And at an immigration hearing, he burst into tears when he misunderstood the judge’s statement and he kept on saying, “I feel like American.’’ A year later, he won the first place K – 3rd Grade Section in March, 2019 New York State Scholastic Championships Tournament and several trophies.

Tanitoluwa has an aggressive style of play, and in the state tournament the coaches watching from the side-lines were shocked when he sacrificed a bishop for a lowly pawn. Alarm raised, they fed the move into a computer and it agreed with him.

“It is an inspiring example of how life’s challenges do not define a person.” said Jane Hsu, the principal of P.S 116, which held a pep rally to celebrate Tanitoluwa’s victory. Hsu noted that, while Tanitoluwa lacked home, he had enormously supportive parents dedicated to seeing him succeed.

“It has been a pleasure having Tanitoluwa as a student in class third grade. He has been an important member of our classroom community always sharing his thoughts and trying to guide his peers along the right path. Tanitoluwa really takes an interest in his schoolwork and is eager to participate. His passion for chess is evident; when he shares all the experience he has this year. I am sure that with dedication he will meet his goal of becoming the youngest grandmaster. Tanitoluwa is meeting grade standards across subject areas.”, says class teacher, Ms. Gilmore Kyrie.

Tanitoluwa Adewumi was celebrated throughout the World in media and interviewed by different newspapers, radio and television stations:

CNN, New York Times, CBS News, NBC Today News, BBC Africa, New York 1 TV Station, USCF-Chess Life, USCF-Chess Life Kids, Saint Louis Chess Club TV Station, Channels TV Nigeria, USA Today, Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), TV Globo Brazil, German TV, The Punch Newspaper (Nigeria), The Guardian Newspaper (Nigeria), Times for Kids Magazine, Paris Match Magazine


Tribeca Innovative and Disruptive Award

The New York City Council Proclamation (Manhattan Districts)

Standard Bearer Ministries Intl.


MISSION STATEMENT: Helping Talent Meets Opportunity


From Homeless Refugee to New York State’s Newest Chess King: Meet 8-Year-Old Tanitoluwa Adewumi, the Pride of P.S. 116’s Third Grade

Behind every good story is a teacher

The Tanitoluwa Adewumi Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

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