Gameheads: Summer Accelerator Program

We use video game design, development and DevOps (IT) training to engage, prepare and train low-income youth and youth of color ages 11 to 25 in the Bay Area. Through a powerful medium they are already familiar with and passionate about, our youth learn how to code, design, create, manage projects, work in teams, lead, and tell stories that enrich us all. In the process, they are graduating from high school, getting into college to pursue STEAM-related degrees and preparing to enter the tech and video game industries.

The Problem

Gameheads is a tech youth program that uses video games to develop diverse talent and bold new voices, train marginalized youth for the tech eco-system, and prepare them for college, career and civic life.

The video game industry in the U.S. is projected to grow to $90.07 billion by 2020 and youth of color are already playing games at higher rates--at least 10 to 30 minutes per day more than white youth. In fact, video games are second only to music as the medium our students interact with when using tech devices. On the flip side, African Americans, Latinos and East Asians collectively make up less than 24% of the people employed in the extremely lucrative video game industry. Further, only 21% identified as female and less than 10% identify as LGBTQ.

The lack of diversity is also prevalent in the greater tech industry with one study of nine major tech companies showing less than 50% of their workforce were women; well below 30% of those were in leadership positions. According to the study, Black and Latino employees, on average, made up less than 5% of the total workforce, with just fewer than 2% in leadership positions at every company with the exception of one. Furthermore, while representation of white women in non-video game tech leadership roles improved by 17% between 2007 and 2015, for all other minority groups -- including African American, Hispanic and Asian men and women -- the percentage declined.

The Solution

The cores strategy of Gameheads is to provide a collaborative workspace for young digital creatives, multimedia mavericks and urban tech innovators offering game design, development and DevOps training while engaging, schools, local organizations and the tech and gaming community to collectively produce culturally relevant interactive projects. During the summer, each student is paired with a video game industry professional after which students form development teams, ideate an interactive project and spend the summer designing a working prototype which is pitched, presented and demo'd in August in front of 250+ friends, family and industry professionals. Students will collect feedback from Showcase participants and spend the fall polishing their projects before distributing them on an online platform such as, STEAM, Google Play or the App Store.

This core strategy supports of our impact goals:

1. Gameheads students will be empowered to develop as leaders and to transition from being tech consumers and enthusiasts to developers, designers, coders or tech entrepreneurs.

2. Gameheads students will be prepared academically, finishing middle school (if applicable) and high school (if applicable) and pursuing advanced level education by matriculating into and completing post-secondary education.

3. Gameheads students will be prepared to enter the video game and tech fields, through mentorship, internship, educational support, and a hands-on apprenticeship on video game production processes from conception to distribution.

Stage of Development

  • Early Stage
  • Established Prototype
  • Scaling
  • Other

Organization to Receive Funds


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