NASEF Education and Tournament Growth

Sep 14, 2023

NASEF is known around the world for our leadership in the scholastic esports space. We are constantly working to advance our mission of providing opportunities for all students to use esports as a platform to develop STEAM-based skills and social emotional attributes such as communication, collaboration, and problem-solving abilities needed to thrive in work and in life.

We’re growing in numbers; that’s important because it represents positive youth impact.  Educators and leaders in NASEF’s programs consistently witness wonderful student growth in development of STEAM skills, career awareness and learning, personal confidence and community-building, as well as other social emotional gains. Plus, they’re having fun doing it! We’re thrilled with every club that joins, every affiliate added around the world, and every partnership that provides an opportunity to support another person with our model that connects play and learning.

In the spring, we began evaluating our needs for the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Esports Initiative, and other NASEF tournaments and future United States Esports Federation competitions. Today, we’re excited to share that we’re partnering with PlayVS. This collaboration presents the opportunity to extend impact to youth in thousands  of schools and organizations that already play on the PlayVS platform. NASEF will now be the Official Education Partner for PlayVS, and we look forward to inviting members of PlayVS to tap into NASEF’s extensive free curriculum and to leverage our programming to learn about career opportunities in the esports ecosystem, to become part of regional affiliates, to join our Beyond the Game™ and Minecraft educational challenges, and more.

This unexpected alliance got its start in NASEF’s open RFP for a tournament platform. At about the same time, PlayVS announced a new CEO taking the helm: Jon Chapman has been a respected leader in education for years as a co-founder of Everfi, which reached students in tens of thousands of schools with high-caliber STEAM curriculum. In the same spirit and commitment as NASEF, that curriculum was free to every student and school around the country.

Jon is a big gamer in his free time. He chose to join PlayVS because he sees the need for esports leadership that is focused on student education, workforce development, health and wellness, and is built on a foundation of inclusiveness, equity, and diversity. With new leadership at the helm of PlayVS, core values and business practices will change. That was critical to our even opening the door for consideration. Working closely with the NASEF Board and leadership, we determined that PlayVS is the best platform that meets all our criteria. 

Members of CIF will be pleased to know that NASEF’s existing agreements stand - tournament fees will not increase and will remain the same as last year, and James Wood remains the Tournament Admin and point of contact. We’ll also look for ways to extend impact to PlayVS schools and organizations by sharing NASEF’s extensive free curriculum and programming that emphasizes career opportunities within and through the esports ecosystem. 

NASEF affiliates manage impactful regional programs with the same goal of blending play and learning. We will continue to help our affiliates grow and sustain their work. Many NASEF members already use the PlayVS platform. Given our federated model, there is no requirement to use PlayVS. However, we hope many choose to do so, given the strength of their platform, their support, and their game title portfolio. Adding access to some of their additional titles will help build the diversity of our programs as different titles attract a different set of students. 

As Jon Chapman, the new CEO of PlayVS said, “PlayVS was built to set the standard as a platform for esports competition, and it does. I believe we can offer that top-tier competition opportunity while focusing on accessibility and inclusiveness. NASEF provides valuable resources that meld education with the play. We’re thrilled to share those with our members in order to intentionally build life and career skills in this fun environment of esports.” 

Jon and NASEF’s founder and Executive Director Gerald Solomon actually have known each other for many years. They first connected over a decade ago, while Gerald was Executive Director of the Samueli Foundation. They worked together in the development of a highly impactful project combining STEM education and sports, a project known as the “Science of Hockey,” which has become a flagship for the NHL and science centers. It is a great example of how these two leaders can collaborate together for the benefit of students and social good. 

Gerald said, “When a new person takes the helm of an organization, there are great opportunities for a shift in philosophy and execution. Based on my personal history with Jon, his professional track record, and his stated objectives, I believe that he will bring PlayVS to a place of great positive influence. I anticipate a productive collaboration, where we and the organizations we lead will collaborate to positively impact many youth in the years to come.”

We look forward to all that is going to be developed through this partnership and the many more students that will be positively impacted over the years.

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