LOFT Video Game Fellowship Awards Grants!

Alberto Avalos

Innovation and Technology Program Manager

Last Year, 20 Youth (15-25 Years Old) Presented Ideas to White House, Congress and Policy Makers in DC and Received Innovation Grants

WASHINGTON, DC – The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s (HHF) Leaders on the Fast Track (LOFT) will once again host the LOFT Video Game Innovation Challenge and Fellowship for minority youth across the country ages 15-25.  Last year, 20 youth were selected, provided with Innovation Grants, and flown to Washington, DC from across the country to present their ideas to members of Congress, The White House, and community leaders. Applications closed September 15th for the chance to be one of the 2014 Fellows who are selected for their vision, creativity, and potential impact of the game on their community and receive Innovation Grants to further their vision.

“Through this creative partnership with the ESA, we are engaging youth on their terms, through video games and phone apps to make a social impact,” said Jose Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO of HHF. “We also believe there is a link from playing a video game to developing a game to computer coding, cybersecurity, and other workforce skills gap areas America is trying to fill. It’s important minority youth are encouraged to create not just consume.”  Watch a TV interview with FOX about the program from last year.

Fellows were brought to Washington, DC from October 1-3, 2014 and took part in a Demo Day on October 2, 2014. Morning panelists on October 2, 2014 at 10 a.m. included:

  • Marco A. Davis: Deputy Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics
  • Dr. Ana Ferresas: Senior Program Officer at the National Academics.
  • Michael Echols: CIKR Cyber Operations Management, Department of Homeland Security; Founder and President of BASE (Black Association of Science and Engineering)

A noon luncheon then followed at Hispanic Heritage Foundation Headquarters (1001 Pennsylvania Ave NW, 10th floor). Later that evening, Robert Raben, founder and president of The Raben Group, hosted a reception in his home at 5:30 p.m.

A White House briefing took place on October 3, 2014, at 10:30 a.m. in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

The video games and phone apps last year ranged from dealing with Cerebral Palsy to healthy lifestyles to teen pregnancy to college prep to experiencing homelessness to financial literacy to even teaching literacy through rap lyrics on Twitter.

“The ESA LOFT Video Game Innovation Fellowship shows how games are more than a means of entertainment, but also a valuable tool for change in our society,” said Rich Taylor, senior vice president of communications and industry affairs at the ESA. “We are proud to offer this opportunity that will help create real change in minority communities through the unique platform only video games can provide.”

Joining ESA and HHF on the effort was Globaloria, Black Girls Code, BK Nation, BASE (Black Association of Scientist and Engineers, Computer Science Teacher’s Association), Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Association, National Urban League, NRCCUA, IAM.Angel, Mushroom Learning, STEMConnector, Class Room Antics, and Gamepress, among others. HHF is also hosting free computer coding camps across the country and innovation symposia to encourage minority youth to fill America’s skills gap. Southwest Airlines is the official airline of LOFT.

About ESA

ESA offers services to interactive entertainment software publishers, including conducting business and consumer research, providing legal and policy analysis and advocacy on First Amendment, intellectual property and technology/e-commerce issues, managing a global anti-piracy program, owning and operating E3, and representing video game industry interests in federal and state government relations. For more information, please visit www.theESA.com or follow us on Twitter at @RichatESA or @ESAGovAffairs.