The judges for a virtual fundraising event on March 16 for Economic Arkansas (EA) read like a “Who’s Who” of some of the top executives not just in Arkansas but nationally and internationally. Jim Walton, who is chairman and CEO of Arvest Bank and a longtime member of the board of EA, and his wife, Lynne, are honorary chairs for the virtual event.
Honorary judges include John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., and his wife, Brandy; Shelley Simpson, chief commercial officer, executive vice president of people and human resources at J.B. Hunt; Todd Simmons, CEO and co-vice chair of Simmons Foods; Megan Crozier, executive vice president and chief merchant of Sam’s Club; and Scott Spradley, chief technology officer of Tyson Foods, and his wife, Annie.
Participants in the event will be tasked with developing products conceptualized and prototyped in 10 minutes using limited supplies announced at the beginning of the event.
EA Director Kathleen Lawson said the event mirrors one of the many engaging ways EA trains teachers to make economic education exciting in the classroom, no matter what grade or subject.
“Encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit is just one facet of this work. For 59 years, EA has been a valuable resource for PreK-12 classrooms across the state. In 2020, more than 4,600 participants were trained to integrate economics, entrepreneurship, and financial education into the classroom — making 2020 a record year for the organization,” she said.
When schools went virtual last March, EA pivoted to virtual learning opportunities for teachers.
“We are excited to bring that experience to a virtual fundraising event where we can showcase our efforts to take the ‘eek’ out of economics,” Lawson said. “I’m excited to give our sponsors and ticket holders an opportunity to experience in a very fun way the concept of using materials to build something and then ‘selling the idea’ to a panel of judges. Donors get to see the things we do. They get to have fun while we showcase what we do and raise money. It promises to be a fun and unique fundraiser done virtually with friends and/or co-workers.”
EA’s mission is to equip pre-K and K-12 schools with standards-based resources and professional development to teach economics, personal finance and the free-enterprise system. The event will take place at 6 p.m. on March 16. Sponsorships start at $1,500, and the event is limited to 50 attendees. Tickets are $150. For more information, email Lawson at firstname.lastname@example.org.