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Grants awarded to young people making games that address social change

Above: Loft collaborated with the ESA to give grants to minorities promoting social change with games.

Image Credit: Loft

The video game industry’s lobbying group and a nonprofit are giving away grants to 20 minority teens and adults who are creating games that address social problems in their communities.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s Leaders on the Fast Track (LOFT) today announced the recipients of the award known as the ESA LOFT Video Game Innovation Fellowship. The 20 winners are ages 16 to 24 and earned grants aimed at stimulating community change. The grants are part of a movement in the game business, dubbed Games for Change, to do social good through gaming.

“At the core of the ESA LOFT Video Game Innovation Fellowship is the belief that using technology for social change or career paths is essential to not only the advancement of minority communities, but America as a nation,” said Jose Antonio Tijerino, the president and CEO of HHF. “Through this creative partnership with the ESA, we are engaging youth on their terms, through video games. The link from playing a video game to developing one to computer coding, cybersecurity and other skills gap areas is evident and that’s also what we are trying to leverage through this program.”

The fellows get a $1,000 grant to work on their games. They will be flown to Washington, D.C., and make a presentation to the groups. They will be evaluated based on their vision, creativity, and potential impact on their community. The ideas so far include a Greek mythological adventure to teach math to grade school students, a hero who fights his way through SAT vocabulary words, and a game that teaches kids how to write lyrics via 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.”

The 2013 Video Game Innovation Fellows are:

Geraldine Agredo, 15
Game – Animal Frenzy: Identify animals in Spanish for bilingual education
Attends The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria
Hometown of Astoria, New York

Ashely Alicea, 23
Game – Pencils Down: See the World Through a Teacher’s Eyes
Attended Ithaca College
Hometown of Dorado, Puerto Rico

Mia Benavidez, 17
Game – Cards for the Cause: Applications for Literacy
Attends Robert E. Lee High School
Hometown of San Antonio, Texas

Asia Bryant, 21
Game – Urban RGP Create Your Environment: Community Awareness
Attends Vassar College
Hometown of Newark, New Jersey

Marcus Cisneros, 17
Game – College-To-Do List- College Preparation
Attends Watsonville High School
Hometown of Watsonville, California

Terrence Dalbert, 22
Game – Top Recruit: Navigating Senior Year
Attends Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Hometown of Augusta, Georgia

Claudia Flores, 23
Game – Any Hour is the Right Time: Community Service
Attends Santa Clara University
Hometown of San Jose, California

John Funtanilla, 22
Game – Founder’s Quest: How to Build Your Own Nonprofit
Attends San Francisco State University
Hometown of San Francisco, California

Ama Koranteng, 17
Game – Transform-a-City: Addressing Ethnic Inequality
Attends New Albany High School
Hometown of New Albany, Ohio

Daniela Leguisamo, 15
Game – Animal Frenzy: Identify Animals in Spanish for Bilingual Education
Attends The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria
Hometown of Jackson Heights, New York

Nicu Listana, 20
Game – Founder’s Quest: How to Build Your Own Nonprofit
Attends San Francisco State University
Hometown of San Francisco, California

Morelia Lopez, 17
Game – College-To-Do List- College Preparation
Attends Watsonville High School
Hometown of Watsonville, California

Bayonia Marshall, 20
Game – Baby Rush: Addressing Teen Pregnancy and Single Parenting
Attends Iona College
Hometown of Oxon Hill, MD

Sade Mcintosh, 22
Game – Restaurant RockStar: Food and Nutrition Education
Attends York College
Hometown of Far Rockaway, New York

Aaron Michael-Blackman, 22
Game – Where’s the Money: Financial Literacy
Attends Howard University
Hometown of St. Louis, Missouri

Jesus Rios, 22
Game – JFG Haiku Hunt: Education about the Japanese Friendship Gardens in San Diego
Attends University of California, San Diego
Hometown of Calexico, California

Michelle Rivas-Molina, 15
Game – Animal Frenzy: Identify Animals in Spanish for Bilingual Education
Attends The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria
Hometown of Jamaica, New York

Demetric Sanders, 24
Game – Bar Up!: Teaching Kids to Write through Lyrics and Twitter
Attended Stanford University
Hometown of Portland, Oregon

Sophie Sheeline, 19
Game – Doctor Game: Learn How to Diagnose
Attends Dartmouth University
Hometown of Hillsboro, California

Fatima Zenine Villanueva, 22
Game – DOMUS: Life from Perspectives of a Homeless Individual
Attends Bergen Community College
Hometown of Ridgefield Park, New Jersey


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