Zynga Donates $1 Million to Spelman to Establish Gaming Program

Last Updated on November 14, 2023


Zynga, a global leader in interactive entertainment, recently announced a $1 million gift to establish scholarships and implement a pilot gaming program for Spelman College students.

“Spelman has a long tradition of expanding the pipeline of talent into areas where Black women have been most underrepresented. To continue this trend for our current and future students, we all must work collaboratively to provide real-world, educational, and hands-on experiences…Through our partnership with Zynga, Spelman will continue to make a global impact by shortening the gender and racial divide present in gaming and tech.”

Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., Spelman President

The gift will support students like Madeleine Brown, a computer science major, and Anetha Evans, an art major, and Japan studies minor. Brown and Evans will be the first recipients of the Zynga Scholarship. The scholarship's aim is to help students complete college with less debt.

“Video games have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and my studies here at Spelman helped me gain the skills to better traverse the world of game development…To be named one of the first recipients of this scholarship means that I am paving the way for other women who are interested in STEM and gaming.”

Madeleine Brown, Computer Science Major

In addition to scholarships, the gift will also fund the Zynga Gaming Lab, housed within the Spelman Innovation Lab. The Gaming Lab will guide students through the process of creating game theory, design, and development through immersive storytelling, 3D modeling, and other aspects of interactive media.

Evans and Brown will join a group of STEM and non-STEM students in the Lab. They will explore game design, virtual reality, 3D simulation, immersive storytelling, and other game-related concepts and their application in the social, educational, storytelling, research, and entertainment fields.

“Students in the Lab were beginning to request a more formal treatment of the topic of game development and immersive storytelling…With support from Zynga, game development can grow from a budding student interest to a study that can be integrated into the formal curriculum.”

Jerry Volcy, Ph.D., Brown-Simmons Professor and Co-director of the Innovation Lab

Through Spelman’s Innovation Lab, students are introduced to new technologies that can be leveraged to articulate the African American experience through the eyes of Black women. Whether the story is in the form of an artistic expression, a dance, a narrative film, or a game, the Lab provides a forum for ideation.

“This opportunity means that I will be able to focus more on my studies and my artistic endeavors, which include creating a graphic novel, animation, YouTube video production, and other forms of digital art.”

Anetha Evans, Art Major and Japan Studies Minor

The gift from Zynga will also help encourage the growth of diversity in the gaming industry through internships and career mentoring programs that will pair students with current Zynga employees.

“We are proud to work with Spelman College in a collaborative effort to increase Black, female representation in the gaming industry…Through this investment from Zynga's Social Impact Fund we are creating new pathways for Black students that will inevitably shape a more diverse and inclusive gaming industry.”

Vijay Pendakur, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer of Zynga

About Spelman College

Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country's leading producer of Black women who complete PhDs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News & World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 54 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 24 for undergraduate teaching, No. 4 for social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 15th year among historically Black colleges and universities.

The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Recent initiatives include a designation by the Department of Defense as a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, a Gender and Sexuality Studies Institute, the first endowed queer studies chair at an HBCU, and a program to increase the number of Black women PhDs in economics.

New majors have been added, including documentary filmmaking and photography, and collaborations have been established with MIT’s Media Lab, the Broad Institute, and the Army Research Lab for artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Rosalind Brewer, political leader Stacey Abrams, former Acting Surgeon General, and Spelman’s first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley, actress and producer Latanya Richardson Jackson, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones.

For more information, visit https://www.spelman.edu.

About Zynga Inc.

Zynga is a global leader in interactive entertainment with a mission to connect the world through games. With massive global reach in more than 175 countries and regions, Zynga has a diverse portfolio of popular game franchises that have been downloaded more than four billion times on mobile including CSR Racing™, Empires & Puzzles™, Hair Challenge™, Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells™, High Heels!™, Merge Dragons!™, Merge Magic!™, Queen Bee™, Toon Blast™, Toy Blast™, Words With Friends™ and Zynga Poker™. With Chartboost, a leading mobile advertising and monetization platform, Zynga is an industry-leading next-generation platform with the ability to optimize programmatic advertising and yields at scale. Founded in 2007, Zynga is headquartered in California with locations in North America, Europe, and Asia.  For more information, visit www.zynga.com or follow Zynga on  Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or the Zynga blog.

Source: Spelman College News Desk

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