Although reports show esports is projected to reach 285 million frequent users by 2024, those numbers, although impressive, have less significance if the Black community remains underrepresented and under-resourced.
Looking to provide a gateway for the Black community, co-founders Chris Peay (chief marketing officer) and Ryan Johnson (chief executive officer) launched Cxmmunity, a nonprofit to revitalize minority involvement in the esports industry and increase minority involvement in STEM.
The inception of Cxmmunity began in Georgia, a state that has reportedly become the esports capital of the nation. And, its city of Atlanta is marked as one of the premier locations for U.S. gamers due to the venues and infrastructures, which can house the necessary elements of an esports ecosystem. However, despite the state’s gleaming presence for gamers, there are still inequities for the Black population within the school systems.
According to Peay, there were evident discrepancies between schools in Fayetteville, Georgia in comparison to schools on the westside of Atlanta. The focused schools in Fayetteville had esports labs and students had opportunities to compete nationally while students on the westside of Atlanta were not afforded similar resources or opportunities.
Those evident disparities amongst schools are what jumpstarted the creation of Cxmmunity in February of 2020, and the rest is history in the making.
Cxmmunity Wants To Land Black Youth Jobs
The nonprofit operates on three pillars, which cater to kids in grades K-12 and the college level. For the youth, the non-profit has developed a nine-week and nine-month educational platform to teach students how to code, encourage them to conceptualize original video games and inform the youth on the necessary tools to become video game developers. The overarching goal of these resources is to funnel a pipeline that will ultimately land these students jobs in the tech industry. To steward opportunities back to the Black youth, Cxmmunity has cemented partnerships with corporations such as Verizon and Riot Games to land students internships and job opportunities.
“Our main goal is to get the Black youth hired within the tech industry,” Peay told AfroTech. “Eighty-three percent of African American millennials play video games daily but when you look at the video game workforce specifically, only about two to three percent of African Americans work within the space. We’re always the influencer, we’re always the consumer, but we’re hardly ever the beneficiary.”
He continued: “That’s one of the biggest disparities that we wanted to try and overcome, so we came up with these programs to create a pipeline to take K-12 students to HBCUs that then work or compete within an HBCU sports league.”
Cxmmunity Provides HBCUs Access To The World Of Esports
Currently, Cxmmunity’s flagship program is the first competitive esports league for HBCUs and it has opened the doors for 35 schools to compete on a national level.
As the nonprofit began to see esports at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) pick-up momentum, Cxmmunity attracted more partnerships such as Microsoft, Amazon-owned Twitch, Verizon, Comcast, the United Negro College Fund, Evil Geniuses, DTLR and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. These partnerships became helpful to create a stream of revenue that was previously non-existent to students and institutions. Now opportunities to generate money have become accessible through brand sponsorships and media rights.
In addition, partnerships have enabled Cxmmunity to fulfill its mission to provide equitable resources to HBCUs. In June 2021, it was announced that they worked with Verizon to facilitate $1 million for esports labs to be housed at five HBCUs and scholarships for women with STEM majors.
“The largest barrier to entry as it relates to esports is personal computer gaming (PC),” Peay told AfroTech. “In the esports industry, to be recognized or taken seriously, you want to play on a PC. Growing up young and in a Black household, you rarely have a PC or a let alone a household computer to play video games. So, it was important to take some of those soft sponsorship dollars and build actual esports labs at some of our HBCUs.”
As the year comes to a close, Cxmmunity will provide students one more treat as they are set to host a 16-team NBA 2k Tournament, which will begin before the Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic.
As AfroTech previously reported, Michael B. Jordan, MaC Venture Capital and Serena Ventures (an investment firm owned by Serena Williams) will be joining forces with the college basketball showcase designed to promote HBCU culture and funnel opportunities for students and alumni. The winner of Cxmmunity’s single-elimination competition will attend the showcase at the Prudential Center in New Jersey on Dec. 18.