FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Local teachers in Arvest Bank communities will receive a total of $72,500 through the bank’s seventh annual “We Love Teachers” initiative.

According to a press release from Arvest, “We Love Teachers” will provide 145 $500 gifts to individual teachers who work at public state-funded schools throughout the bank’s four-state footprint. Recipients are selected by partnering schools’ administrations based on classroom needs.

Arvest’s initiative aims to address a widespread need among teachers. According to a 2021 AdoptAClassroom.org survey, teachers spent an average of $750 of their own money for classroom needs during the 2020-2021 school year.

Additionally, 30 percent of respondents said they spend $1,000 or more per year. AdoptAClassroom.org, a national nonprofit that provides funding to U.S. schools and teachers, said teacher spending has increased 25 percent since it began its surveys in 2015.

“Teachers play such a vital role in our communities, and we know they face a lot of challenges, often including economic ones,” said Kent Williamson, president for Arvest in Springdale. “‘We Love Teachers’ is a way we can show our respect and admiration for the work they do. Their work with our children makes our communities stronger and better.”

In the six-year history of the “We Love Teachers” initiative, Arvest has awarded more than $320,000 to more than 640 teachers. This year’s recipients will be chosen by September 16 and notified no later than September 30.