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CONTACT: Dan Hewitt – dhewitt@theESA.com or 202-223-2400

20th Annual Nite to Unite Raises More Than $820,000

ESA Foundation Honors Laila Shabir with Visionary Award

WASHINGTON – April 19, 2018 – Contributing more than $820,000 to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) Foundation, the US video game industry marked the 20th anniversary of Nite to Unite with incredible generosity. The charity gala, held at the Fairmont San Francisco, brought together more than 600 leaders and visionaries from the industry to raise funds for ESA Foundation scholarships and grants that support future video game makers and youth programs.

“Nite to Unite celebrated two decades of improving the lives of America’s youth and helping the next generation of creative innovators achieve their dreams,” said ESA Foundation Executive Director, Anastasia Staten. “The video game industry has supported more than 60 nonprofits and awarded more than $900,000 in scholarships through the ESA Foundation.”

The event honored LearnDistrict and Girls Make Games founder and CEO Laila Shabir with the 2018 Visionary Award – given to individuals and organizations harnessing the power of video games to create positive change and inspire others – for her vision to empower young women through summer camps, workshops, and game jams. Since its creation in 2014, Girls Make Games has inspired 6,000 girls in 41 cities around the world to pursue their interest in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

“Girls Make Games is so much more than a summer camp,” Shabir said after accepting her award. “It’s a movement to empower and inspire girls to fulfill their own life’s vision. These girls are brimming with enough power to change the world – all I do is help them harness it. We have a monumental task ahead of us, and I’m deeply grateful to have so many allies lifting us up.”

As part of its commitment to inclusion in the video game industry, the ESA Foundation announced a partnership at Nite to Unite with Girls Make Games and Google Play’s Change the Game campaign. Together, the three organizations are holding the Change the Game Design Challenge and asking teens to use their creativity and skills to develop a video game idea. Five finalists will have the opportunity to take the first step towards making it a reality. The overall winner will receive a $10,000 college scholarship and a $15,000 technology contribution to their school. All five finalists will fly to Los Angeles to showcase their idea at E3, the world’s biggest video game event, and receive mentorship from leaders in the industry.

“Laila and the team at Girls Make Games are a perfect example of how we can leverage our collective resources to make our industry more inclusive,” Staten said. “Laila’s work embodies the ESA Foundation’s mission, and together, we are continuing to provide a pathway for future developers to cultivate their passion for video games into a profession.”

View photos from NTU 2018 here.

About the ESA Foundation

Created by the American entertainment software industry, the ESA Foundation works to make a positive difference in the lives of America’s youth by providing scholarships to the next generation of industry innovators and supporting charitable organizations and schools that leverage entertainment software and technology. The ESA Foundation receives its primary funding proceeds from the signature annual fundraiser Nite to Unite and other charitable initiatives. For more information, please visit the ESA Foundation website or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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