The Entertainment Software Association announced earlier this week that the ESA Foundation would be expanding its college scholarship offerings for 2020-2021 to include an esports scholarship that will help support college students competing on esports teams at four-year, accredited universities in the United States. The new scholarship from the ESA also aims to increase the relative participation of women and members of minority groups in esports, as both demographics receive a very small statistical percentage of esports and gaming scholarships on average.
The overarching goal of the ESA Foundation’s new esports scholarship program is to create and advance opportunities for growth for women and minorities in colleges and universities in the United States and help create and expand pathways that lead to meaningful placements in the video games and competitive esports industries. The ESA Foundation was established in 2000, and since its inception has raised over $23 million towards this aim over the last two decades.
The esports scholarship joins the ESA Foundation’s other offerings: the Computer and Video Game Arts Scholarship and a scholarship “co-awarded by Gay Gaming Professionals for service to LGTBQ+ communities.” According to their announcement, the ESA Foundation has awarded nearly 400 scholarships to women and minority students who study for degrees in fields that lead to career opportunities in the gaming industry. The ESA invites scholarship recipients to networking events with game developers and industry figures, including the ESA’s annual E3 trade show in Las Vegas.
The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) estimates that last year $16 million in esports scholarships were awarded to students since 2016, but the ESA Foundation estimates that a minimal percentage of those awards went to women or minority students in esports. According to the ESA in their report “Leveling the Playing Field: Women in Esports” women are a growing esports audience, rising to more than 30% of viewers in 2018. The ESA also shared in 2019’s Essential Facts research that women make up nearly half of “gamers” but are largely unrepresented or underrepresented in college and professional esports.
Applications are open for all three ESA Foundation scholarships until March 2, 2020. Interested candidates can apply for the ESA Foundation’s esports scholarship here.