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“PBS NewsHour Weekend” Feature: Game It Forward

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  • Jennifer Gibson
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In Northwest Arkansas, public school teachers are getting financial assistance through board games.

Game It Forward, a tabletop gaming convention, happens once a year in March, and all of the profits go to public school teachers. The event was started by Jennifer Burns in 2015 when she and her friends realized a board game convention could be popular in Fayetteville. “At the same time, Project Teacher was being formed, and so we partnered together to be a fundraiser to help get Project Teacher going.”

Project Teacher Northwest Arkansas

Project Teacher Northwest Arkansas was being formed by several community members, including Carrie Bigfeather, who said she saw a clear need.  “On average a teacher will spend between $800 and $1000 of her own money above and beyond what a school district would give to them to buy the supplies that she needs for her classroom or for her kiddos. […] Project Teacher Northwest Arkansas is a resource center here in Northwest Arkansas to support teachers in low income schools. So we do require that they are 70% free and reduced lunch in order to qualify, but the shopping is free for those teachers.”

Project Teacher Northwest Arkansas Supplies

The free shopping includes supplies from 3M, Elmer’s and other manufacturers of school supplies. Many of the items are donated by the manufacturers. The donated supplies and space, along with a volunteer staff, keep the costs low. This makes any fundraiser profitable, and the focus on a growing community of tabletop gamers has proven to be successful. This is their third event, and as word has spread, their numbers have increased.

Game It Forward Northwest Arkansas World’s Fair Players

“I think we had 90-something people our first year,” said Burns. She estimates the attendance over the 2-day event, held March 3-4 in Fayetteville Town Center, to be about 280 people. “The gaming genre itself has been on an uptrend for the past 10 years. In Fayetteville alone, there is a game night somewhere every night of the week.”

Game It Forward Northwest Arkansas Check-Out

With ticket prices ranging from $10 to $60, 280 people can provide a fair amount of school supplies, along with awareness for their cause.

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Game It Forward

Project Teacher Northwest Arkansas

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“PBS NewsHour Weekend” airs Saturdays and Sundays at 5:30 p.m.