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Welcome to
Resource Equity Edition

Explore strategies to advance resource equity and make budget tradeoffs that enable all children to reach rigorous learning outcomes – no matter their race or income.

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What is Resource Equity Hold'em for Districts?

Resource Equity Hold’em for Districts is more than a game – it’s an interactive exploration of how school system leaders can make the most of every dollar to accelerate student learning, particularly for their neediest students. Hold’em sparks conversation about budget tradeoffs, transformational instruction, and equity in student experiences. It helps leaders envision their budget as a reflection of their priorities.

Advocates can play Resource Equity Hold'em to make informed and equity-oriented recommendations to district leaders as part of an annual budgeting process or strategic planning process (e.g., as part of the school improvement process). As we’ve facilitated this game for district leadership teams, we have found that the game format encourages participants to step outside of their day-to-day decision-making to look at their choices in a new and more integrated way. Play on your own to get a sense of how it works.

How to Play?
  • Take the perspective of an advocate on the school improvement committee who has been invited to help the district figure out how to respond to its resource allocation review results. Click here for a link to a PDF with the game scenario and resource allocation review results.
  • Assume the state has given a very small amount of new money to your district for school improvement (we suggest 0.4% of the district’s budget in the scenario linked above, but you can adjust the amount). You can use this game to figure out your recommendations for how the district will use these and other funds.
  • In the game, you'll receive "deals" of cards describing potential investments and savings. Choose to "play" cards that fit your priorities and help meet a budget target. Be realistic, but also open-minded and bold.
  • In the final round, you'll find more information on the resource strategies you chose.
Why play Hold’em?

School systems can't afford to just cut - or to layer new money onto old strategies. If we want to increase equity in student experiences, education leaders must think differently about how to balance reductions and investments. This means crafting a budget that reflects the district’s key priorities, incorporates multiple dimensions of resource equity, and thoughtfully pairs strategies to have the greatest impact -- we think advocates should play a role in that process and that advocates have access to the kind of information that this exercise uses.

This tool uses real district data and scenarios based on ERS' work from over 15 years in districts nationwide. Versions of ERS’ Hold’em have been played by over 10,000 people in person and online, and continue to be used by district leadership teams, board members, teachers, and more.