Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will be getting their first-ever esports league thanks to a partnership between Twitch and Cxmmunity, a nonprofit focused on increasing minority participation in the fast-growing competitive gaming field.
The historic collaboration will give HBCU students the chance to pursue opportunities within the industry while enhancing the education end of esports through STEM and business development skills. They also will be well-positioned to take advantage of scholarship support through the Twitch Student initiative.
“As an HBCU graduate I am beyond excited to bring esports scholarships, internships, and job opportunities to students of color,” says Ryan Johnson, founder and executive director of Cxmmunity.
Of the more than 200 college and university programs that dot the esports landscape, only one HBCU – Morehouse College – is affiliated with major associations TESPA, NACE and Collegiate Star League. However, there is huge interest in gaming especially from young students who are poised to take their games and education to the next level. Some 83% of black teens say they are involved in competitive gaming in some form, according to data from the International Game Developers Association.
“Growing up we’re often taught you get good grades so that you can get into a good college, graduate from that college, and find a good job. Very seldom do we talk about entrepreneurship, let alone entrepreneurship within the esports and video game industry,” says Chris Peay, co-founder of Cxmmunity. “Knowing first-hand how we’re underrepresented and just lack the access to get into gaming, I’m excited to be working with Twitch to fulfill our mission in increasing the participation of minorities within these industries and close the digital divide.”
The two partners are wasting no time getting started, launching the first weekend of HBCU esports streams this Sunday at 3 p.m. on Twitch.Tv/cxmmunityco. The kick-off event will feature guest appearances from professional athletes, influencers, and world-renowned artists. Cxmmunity has been very active throughout the pandemic in bringing celebrities and notable streamers to raise charitable funds for students in need through telethons and live events.
Twitch has been very active as well in both the K-12 and higher ed space since the start of the pandemic. It recently announced it was teaming up with the North America Esports Federation (NASEF) to help students learning emerging new media skills. Twitch’s latest foray with Cxmmunity aims to give HBCU students the chance to build content creation and streaming skills while leveraging both local and national resources, including connecting with video game publishers and influencers.
“I’m proud to be working alongside Cxmmunity to help minorities receive access to internet and devices to continue their education from home while pursuing gaming and esports,” says Kevin Hoang, Manager of Scholastic Partnerships at Twitch.
Asante Gadson, HBCU League Commissioner, GameBRKZ, says: “I’m thankful for Twitch’s support. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of HBCUs embracing gaming as more than a childish past time that distracts or isolates students, but instead, as another avenue for them to build community, stay connected, and even potentially represent their institution.”
Chris Burt is a reporter and editor for University Business and the Program Chair for the Academic Esports Conference and Expo. He can be reached at [email protected]