League of Legends publisher Riot Games said that it will invest $10 million in founders who are underrepresented minorities and women in the video game community.
And through Riot Games’ Social Impact Fund, the company will commit $1 million in contributions to The Innocence Project and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). The announcements follow up on tweets it made on Sunday and Monday.
The Los Angeles company is also establishing a new partnership with Florida A&M and funding scholarships through the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund. Riot said it will continue investments in various educational programs like Girls Who Code, Urban TxT, Reboot Representation, and Code2040.
Other game companies have also made donations. Zynga announced $1 million in donations to the ACLU Foundation, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Northside Achievement Zone (organization pursuing achievement in schools for children of color), and Race Forward (dedicated to supporting and lifting up local Black-led community organizations). Electronic Arts also donated $1 million to the Equal Justice Initiative and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund.
In a letter to Riot Games employees, president Dylan Jadeja said it was a “very emotional and challenging time.” He said “the murder of yet another unarmed black man has ignited a national outcry for justice, not only for George Floyd, but countless others in the black community who are dying at the hands of a system that they are supposed to be able to trust.”
He said systemic racism isn’t new, but complacency has contributed to slower progress than is needed to drive lasting change. Riot, he said, has a part to play.
Here’s Jadeja’s full message:
I want to start by saying thank you to everyone for the compassion and understanding I have seen demonstrated amongst everyone during what has been a very emotional and challenging time.
The murder of yet another unarmed black man has ignited a national outcry for justice, not only for George Floyd, but countless others in the black community who are dying at the hands of a system that they are supposed to be able to trust. Systemic racism is not a new issue, but we must acknowledge that complacency has contributed to slower progress than is needed to drive lasting change. Like many other companies with the ability and responsibility to accelerate progress, and to make it a reality, we have a part to play and it is on us to do more.
We took time this week to look inward and to be thoughtful and deliberate in how Riot can truly help combat racism and injustice. After all, true change starts at home. We have had a long standing commitment to combating this within our games, but we realized that is not enough. As we shared earlier this week, our efforts will focus on areas that we believe require attention and in which we can have an impact, including justice reform, investing in minority owned businesses, creating opportunities for minorities in our industry, continued education, and addressing bias and discrimination in the workforce.
Partnering for change
Through our Social Impact Fund, we are committing $1 million to make progress within these focus areas, starting with an initial contribution to The Innocence Project and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). These contributions are in addition to our donation matching program where we match up to $1,000 per employee for qualifying donations to these and other organizations. Riot Noir (our employee resource group for Black employees) has provided some great suggestions, so we’re encouraging all employees to use this program and donate to these causes.
We have a platform at Riot Games not only to contribute to great causes, but to create great opportunities; opportunities that can truly change lives. This includes providing needed access to capital and resources as economic growth can be a powerful equalizer.
Through our Corporate Development team, we support and invest in game-related businesses led by passionate gamers who share in our purpose of making it better to be a player. We are proud of our history of working with founders from a variety of backgrounds and will continue to do so with a new program aimed at deploying $10 million towards investments and startup programs focused on founders underrepresented in the games community.
Providing opportunities to those who otherwise may not have access involves ensuring we are supporting and championing the growth of minorities in the gaming and tech industries. We believe the most significant way to spark this growth is to invest our resources in creating a future pipeline for the entire gaming and tech world. We are establishing a partnership with Florida A&M University to support the development of a curriculum to prepare future software engineers who have an interest in pursuing a career in gaming. We are also launching a $50,000 scholarship through Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund to support black students with an interest in game development. And of course, we are continuing our investment in various educational programs like Girls Who Code, Urban TxT, Reboot Representation, and Code2040.
Relentlessly focusing inward, together
In order for progress against prejudice and hate to be a reality, we have to have honest and difficult conversations in our households, classrooms, and workplaces. We know race is a hard topic to talk about, but not talking about it risks insinuating that it is not a problem. On the anniversary of the emancipation of slaves (Juneteenth), we will be hosting a day of conversation on race so that all of us can get comfortable talking about an uncomfortable issue. We also know that there is fear in speaking about race, so we will be offering safe space sessions where honest and vulnerable conversations can take place globally without judgement.
One of our greatest resources we have is the passion and time of our incredible team. Nothing at Riot happens without all of you. It is through a combination of passionate Rioters around the world as well as our position as a leader in one of the fastest growing spaces in entertainment and technology, that we believe can have the greatest long-term impact. We’ll continue to mobilize our passion and commitment to help local communities around the world, but also engage in the honest conversations and education that we need to be better warriors against hate.
I’m sure this is a question many of you have asked yourselves. The issues we are facing right now are not new ones, but this moment has sadly reminded us that the disease that is racism lives on in this country. It has challenged us to look inward and ask ourselves, “Are we doing enough to create the change that we need?” And the reality is, we know we can and must do more. So we’re going to. Our maturation as a company has shown us that our voice and commitment in these spaces means a lot to employees and to players. And progress is a perpetual commitment that must continue well beyond when the media coverage slows and protests stop.
The voices in the streets are asking for more. They deserve more. Black communities across this country deserve more. With love, empathy, and a collective long-term commitment to change, we will do our part to help deliver on the promise of a world free of racism.