Video gaming association commits $1 million to support Black Girls Code


Andrea Walker, 10, left, Savannah Jasper, 11, second from left, Masiyah Devoe, 11, center, Sydney Scott, 12, and Zene Critton, 12, right, work on a project during the Black Girls Code summer camp on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. About 75 girls took part in the two week camp learning robotics, how to create websites, and mobile applications. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) (Photo by MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images)

By Shirin Ali, CNN

(CNN) — The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) announced a $1 million partnership with Black Girls Code (BGC) to help educate and support girls interested in technology.

ESA, a trade association for the video game industry, announced it is working through its philanthropic arm, The ESA Foundation, to spend $1 million over the next two years to provide direct financial support, investments in volunteer time and other industry resources to support tech education, workshops and mentorships. The effort will be in collaboration with BGC to bring more women of color in to the tech and gaming industries

“Talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. Our industry is committed to expanding opportunities in our sector by working to grow talent and spark interest and excitement for STEAM (science,technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) careers, especially for those from underrepresented groups,” said Stanley Pierre-Louis, the ESA president, CEO and ESA Foundation board chair, in a press release.

Anastasia Staten, ESA Foundation executive director, told CNN that she heard from numerous students who credited their success to the BGC programs they went through as young girls.

Staten said ESA also considered the current makeup of the tech industry, with women accounting for only 26% of the computing workforce, with 3% African-American, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology.

“When we looked specifically at Black Girls Code, the programming that they offered, the recommendations of the young women that have been through their program, and how they are diverse and spread across the country, really spoke to us,” Staten said.

BGC introduces computer programming and technology to girls ages 7-17 from underrepresented communities through workshops, hackathons and after-school programs. Since its launch in 2013, BGC has reached over 3,000 students and has operated in seven states as well as South Africa, according to the group’s website.

This ESA partnership will allow collaboration between the broader tech and gaming industry with BGC’s chapters across the country, including Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

“By cultivating the next generation of developers, we hope to grow the number of women of color in the technology sector who will ultimately become the future leaders in this space,” said BGC in a statement included in ESA’s press release.

Staten said ESA plans to roll out workshops this summer at which girls will be exposed to basic game design, allowing them to establish and grow programming skills.

ESA will also tap into its member companies, which include Microsoft, Nintendo and Epic Games, to staff its workshops. Virtual workshops are also being planned, so girls who live in cities where BGC does not have a chapter can still participate.

After this two-year program with BGC, Staten said ESA hopes to learn and evaluate how it can continue to support women in the tech and gaming industry.


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