ESA Foundation


The ESA Foundation, informed by the expertise and innovative prowess of the video game industry, supports programs and opportunities that positively impact the lives of America’s youth. We facilitate the operation of geographically diverse projects that benefit students of all genders, races and backgrounds. 

At this time, grants are awarded by invitation only.

Grantee Highlights

Over the years, ESA Foundation grants have been used in various ways, primarily to leverage video game technology to foster youth development and contribute to a more digitally advanced generation.

Programs we’ve supported, benefitting elementary through college-age students, improve health outcomes, help reinforce STEAM skills, enliven history lessons, increase civic participation and prepare students for college. 

After-School All-Stars

After-School All-Stars (ASAS) provides students with educational opportunities outside of school. The ESA Foundation supported the ASAS video game design curriculum “Minecraft: Education Edition” and 9 Dots, a computer-science-education nonprofit which serves more than 500 students in nine cities. Thanks to the Foundation’s support, the curriculum includes a science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) career exploration events in partnership with Verizon.
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Becker College

Becker College recently launched its ForEach Academy STEAM Community Outreach Program, which introduces underprivileged 7th and 8th-grade girls to game design and programming and provides hands-on work with augmented reality, virtual reality, design, modeling, and electronics. 

Support from the ESA Foundation helped expand the program to ensure that more middle-school girls have access to science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) education, ultimately building the pipeline of future video game makers.
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Brown University’s Bootstrap

Brown University’s Bootstrap engages more than 25,000 economically disadvantaged students by integrating computing and algebra education in ways that address persistent challenges for learners in both disciplines. With help from the ESA Foundation, Bootstrap expanded its integrated development environment for disabled students in new and innovative ways. In particular, the program served Native students in New Mexico, where teachers were excited to add game-programming software to their algebra curriculum.
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EverFi leverages technology to teach K-12 students critical life skills. With the ESA Foundation’s support, it launched the Ignition™ – Digital Literacy and Responsibility initiative in Los Angeles, Austin, Texas, and New York City. Ignition™ is a web-based learning platform that educates students about responsible digital citizenship and offers career exploration in video games and other STEAM fields. The ESA Foundation enabled EverFi to continue to build relationships with school districts, in part by partnering with Major League Baseball and the L.A. Dodgers for a Summer Slugger program aimed at helping kids retain critical educational skills during the summer months.

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Extra Life

Extra Life is a 24-hour, video game marathon-fundraiser that’s garnered more than $40 million for medical research and treatment at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) across North America since its inception in 2008. As an ESA Foundation grantee, Extra Life used its funding to develop mobile and social-fundraising apps, enabling participants to fundraise “on the go” and giving CMNH the ability to provide suggested messaging for social platforms.
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Girlstart promotes young women’s early engagement and academic success in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). It aims to help resolve the gender gap in today’s STEM workforce by serving almost 30,000 girls nationwide. With the ESA Foundation’s support, Girlstart was able to increase the number of its free summer camps encouraging girls to participate in STEM activities, with a particular focus on computer science and video game design.
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Global Game Jam

Global Game Jam supports the next generation of game developers by hosting the world’s largest annual game jam. The ESA Foundation supported Global Game Jam’s youth program GGJNext, a comprehensive week-long curriculum that culminates in a youth game jam in which students showcase the games they spent a week learning about and creating. ESA Foundation funding ensured that the program remained completely free and open to all students who wished to learn more about the development of video games.
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Global Kids, Inc.

Global Kids, Inc. programs help young people indulge their curiosity about developing video games that positively impact communities by giving them access to engaging environments and open-source tech tools. The ESA Foundation supported the expansion of the nonprofit’s game-design program, Haunts. The funding enabled Global Kids to expand the STEM-based learning program to Houston, New York City, and Washington, D.C., giving those cities’ students the opportunity to create educational, geo-locative, alternative-reality games.
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iCivics, founded by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, reinvigorates civics learning through interactive games and resources for middle school students across the country. Among the ways in which the ESA Foundation has supported the grantee is by funding the creation of a Spanish version and corresponding teacher curriculum of iCivics’ most popular video game, Do I Have A Right?, which has been played more than 45 million times. The project granted English-language learners the opportunity to learn more about their rights and partake in civic life.
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Inspire USA Foundation

Inspire USA’s mission is to help millions of young people lead happier lives. The core of its work is the design and delivery of innovative, technology-based services that promote mental health and prevent suicide. ESA Foundation support enabled Inspire USA to create a Facebook application to raise awareness of the mental health impact of cyberbullying and bring attention to, a cyberbullying resource for teens. The application was developed through a national competition for young programmers to design and build it.
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National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Since 1984, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NMEC) has served as the nation’s clearinghouse on issues related to missing and sexually exploited children. Thanks, in part, to its many efforts, the recovery rate of missing children has gone from 62 percent in 1990 to more than 97 percent today. The ESA Foundation supported NCMEC’s development of NetSmartz Kids Club UYN, a monthly online feature that promotes internet safety with animated media, interactive activities and more. The partnership continues with the development of resources around anti-bullying and the promotion of safe digital experiences for children.
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Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) is dedicated to displaying and promoting the art and artists of the United States. The ESA Foundation has supported SAAM’s annual Indie Arcade, a free public program featuring video game-related exhibits, programming, and workshops every summer. The event welcomes more than 20,000 visitors from the nation’s capital, Maryland, Virginia, and other states.
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Scholastic’s Alliance for Young Artists & Writers Inc

Scholastic’s Alliance for Young Artists & Writers Inc. empowers creative teenagers in continuously changing artistic fields, including video game design. Thanks to support from the ESA Foundation, the alliance has developed and expanded the reach of its video game workshops to teens in 7th through 12th grade. The workshops introduce students to video game design platforms and teach them successful game structures and storytelling.
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Does the ESA Foundation Grant fund the purchase of hardware and software?

No. The ESA Foundation does not fund the purchase of hardware and software. However, if your project engages youth through technology and/or computer and video games and you require specific hardware to accomplish the goals of the project, you can request funding for necessary hardware and software.

What are indirect costs and are they allowed?

No. Indirect costs are expenses that are not readily identified with a particular project or program, but are for general operation and the conduct of proposed activities imposed by a larger entity under which the project is housed. In a few select circumstances, ESA Foundation will consider a reasonable percentage of indirect costs. Note: fees charged by fiscal agents are never an eligible expense.

Does the ESA Foundation have a policy that specifically states that indirect costs are not eligible or that they must be limited to a specific percentage?

Yes. Indirect costs are not allowed unless a waiver is requested and granted prior to the award stage. A waiver would only be granted in the event that an organization has an established, written policy that states it will not accept grant funds without allocating a portion to indirect costs. Even in this case, a waiver is unlikely, and the total amount allowed would be capped at 10% of the total project/program budget.

Are organizations discouraged or otherwise limited in the number of applications they can submit?

There are no limits on how many applications you may submit.

What if my organization does not have audited financials?

You can submit recent or previous year’s actual expenditures and income with a letter indicating that you do not have audited financials.

What does it mean to be implemented in a minimum of two states?

To be eligible for an ESA Foundation grant, a project or program must operate and have a physical location in at least two states where the project or program is conducted.

If I put my game online is it considered nationally available?

Simply putting your product online does not fulfill this requirement. If you wish to satisfy the multi-state location requirement by making your product or program available online, you must also submit a marketing plan that will demonstrate how you will reach your targeted audience and provide information that substantiates your organization’s website as a trusted peer resource.

Can the grant funds be used to hire or contract a computer programmer or other professionals?

Yes, the grant funds can be used to hire or contract professional services essential to the success of the project.

What is the amount of your average grant?

While there is no set amount for ESA Foundation grants, it is unlikely that first-time ESA Foundation grantees would receive more than $50,000. However, the amount requested should reflect the actual cost of the project.

Do you accept applications for multi-year grants?

No. At this time, ESA Foundation is not making multi-year grant commitments.

What if my project does not directly impact youth and instead works with educators to teach them how to integrate technology and/or computer games that will benefit American youth?

Programs that “train the trainer” are eligible for funding so long as those trained will use their training to positively impact the lives of American youth ages 7-18 through technology and/or computer or video games.

Is it preferable to show that we have applied to other foundations or corporations for support?

Our preference is for proposed projects and programs to be feasible. If your project or program requires additional funding, then it would be a detriment to the application if there were no other potential sources of revenue. If your budget can be fully funded by the ESA Foundation Grant, then it would not be considered a determent if you have not applied for funds elsewhere.

Our program is part of a university. When completing the financial information on the cover page, do we use the university’s financial information or the program/project’s financial information?

You may limit the financial information to the specific department or program that will implement the proposed project or program. Be sure to include a narrative that summarizes the financial status of the department or program in relation to the overall university, along with required financial materials.
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