The Entertainment Software Association — the trade association of America’s video game industry — has announced they will be spending $1 million to help encourage young Black women to learn computer coding.
The new initiative is a partnership with Black Girls Code (BGC), a not-for-profit organization that focuses on providing technology education for young Black girls.
CNN’s Shirin Ali reported that the group’s philanthropic arm, The ESA Foundation, plans “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 into the tech and gaming industries.”
“Talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not,” Stanley Pierre-Louis, ESA’s president, CEO and board chair of the ESA Foundation, said in a press release. “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.”
ESA’s decision to fund the endeavor was triggered, in part, by research that shows women only account for 26% of the computing workforce. Of that group, only 3% are Black.
According to Ali, the ESA leadership decided to work with Black Girls Code because of the numerous programs they already offer, their current success and the glowing reviews of women who have gone through their programs.
“BGC introduces computer programming and technology to girls ages 7-17 from underrepresented communities through workshops, hackathons and after-school programs,” Ali reported. “Since its launch in 2013, BGC has reached over 3,000 students and has operated in seven states as well as South Africa.”
In their own statement after the announcement of their partnership, BGC said “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.”
ESA-sponsored workshops to introduce the initiative are scheduled to begin in summer 2021, with involvement from leading video game developers including Microsoft, Nintendo and Epic Games who will all be helping to staff workshops.
For more information, visit the ESA Foundation’s website.