Belong Gaming Arenas has announced partnerships with two school districts — Williamson County School District and Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District in Dallas, Texas — to help establish scholastic esports programs and support the nationwide development of the amateur esports ecosystem. Tapping into its network of local gaming centers, Belong will provide dedicated practice and competition space for approximately 40,000 students.
“Scholastic esports and gaming is a fast-growing sector of the industry and provides students with educational and social development opportunities but accessibility is a frequent barrier,” said Mary Antieul, VP of Strategy, Belong Gaming Arenas. “As schools continue to build esports programs around the country, Belong Gaming Arenas has a unique opportunity to support schools and students to get involved in the space.”
Belong Gaming Arenas operates over 30 gaming centers in the United States and United Kingdom, each outfitted with high-end gaming equipment — including PCs, consoles, and peripherals — to accommodate both competitive and friendly gameplay. Belong’s partnership will provide local elementary, middle, and high school students with a place to play the latest game titles and compete in official scholastic tournaments in its Grapevine, Texas, and Franklin, Tenn. Arenas. The partnership will see Belong lean on its digital platform to facilitate interscholastic competition as well as against local teams from cities across the Belong Arenas network.
“The values schools aim to instill in students — problem-solving, socialization, strategy, teamwork, and sportsmanship — are reinforced by gaming,” said Kyle Berger, Chief Technology Officer, Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District. “Not only does our partnership with Belong Gaming Arenas reinforce these values, but it opens up a door for us to enter this space and ensures we can support our current and future students with a partner that truly understands esports and gaming.”
Currently, 20 percent of K-12 and higher education schools worldwide have an esports program, but about 71 percent of schools are considering creating a gaming program. The partnership is set to provide resources for schools to launch and expand existing esports programs, serving Belong’s larger vision to increase accessibility of gaming nationwide and help open doors for students interested in pursuing opportunities in higher education, including competitive gaming scholarships.
“For Williamson County, esports helps workforce development in the technology sector,” said Jeremy Qualls, Executive Director of College, Career, and Technical Education and the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, Williamson County School District. “Middle Tennessee has exploded in the tech sector and we want to be on the frontlines of a workforce pipeline, and esports helps exposure into careers. With Belong, we can immediately offer students an entry point into this space and develop a sense of community between students and schools.”
Belong will continue to establish relationships with local school districts and higher education institutes throughout 2022 and beyond, using its gaming centers and digital platform to accelerate scholastic programs and competition. Belong anticipates opening several new Arenas in the U.K. in 2022, with 300 locations to arrive stateside over the next several years, enabling the company to reach more consumers and expand opportunities to support budding community-based esports programs with industry-leading facilities.
For more information on Belong Gaming Arenas and to sign up for a Belong account, visit belong.gg.