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Budget Hold’em for Districts

The Trade-off Game to Transform Districts and Meet Budget Challenges


Budget Hold'em for Districts is more than a game—it’s an interactive exploration of the thoughtful trade-offs school system leaders must make in these challenging budget times. Playing the right cards can help transform your district to make the most of every dollar, while increasing student success. Based in ERS' 12 plus years of experience working with district leaders, Hold'em is an excellent way to build consensus and spark innovative thinking before developing your annual budget, writing a strategic plan, or communicating with stakeholders such as school boards, parents, unions, legislators, and more.


Registering for a free ERS account lets you easily save, share, and compare your results with colleagues. Remember to save your hand at the end!

Or, Play in Person


We've found that an in-person group exercise leads to the most powerful changes in budgeting culture. Our Facilitator's Guide explains how. Download the Guide.

Thanks to the support of our funders, we can offer online Hold'em for free. To play in person, you need to order a deck. Decks cost $19.95 to cover the cost of production. Order a deck through Paypal. 

Hold'em was first released in November 2011 and updated in October 2017.

How have districts, education advocates, legislators, and more used Hold'em?

Budget Hold’em for Districts
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