As I sit here typing this, I cannot think of one African-American male that I know personally that does not own some sort of video gaming system. Unless you count my father and he’s 70+ years old and is still mastering the art of sending a text message. According to a recent article in Fast Company, while Black gamers make up a disproportionately large segment of the video gaming population, only about 2% of the video game developer population is African-American or Latino. A STEM organization is looking to change those numbers while solving social problems in the community at the same time.

Leaders on Fast Track – or LOFT, for short – is an organization whose mission is to identify, prepare, and place talented under-represented minorities who are technically skilled into the workplace. The organization carries out this mission through technical boot camps, online classrooms, hackathons, STEM events, and mentoring. LOFT is currently accepting applications for a fellowship that is intended to encourage the next generation of video game developers and help the community as well.

The ESA/LOFT Video Game Innovation Fellowship is a unique program for youth ages 16-24 years old. The challenge is to create a video game or idea that addresses a social issue in their community. From the applicants, twenty (20) Gaming Innovation Fellows will be selected for their vision, creativity and potential impact on society. Fellows will receive a $1,000 Innovation Grant that will fund their ideas as a social innovator. They will also receive an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. to present their game idea to some of the top leaders in the video gaming industry as well as the media. Opportunities will be available to network for internships, mentorships, and careers in the gaming, innovation, or technology arenas. The ESA is a U.S. association dedicated to serving the business needs of companies that publish computer and video games.

So if you know a young person whose life seems to revolve around Madden and NBA 2K13, encourage them to become technology content creators and not just consumers in the tech space. Applications are being accepted here and the deadline is November 1, 2013.

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