The push for greater racial representation in tech fields is an ever-continuing endeavor and the folks at USC Games have taken a large step to increase Black and Indigenous representation in gaming with the creation of the Gerald A. Lawson Endowment Fund.
The Fund will provide student support for Black and Indigenous students who wish to pursue undergraduate or graduate degrees in game design or computer science from USC's prestigious program. With financial support from additional game and technology companies and donors, USC Games’ vision is to expand the initiative and support other aspects of diversity and equity, including salary support for additional Black and Indigenous faculty as well as labs and projects that address issues that affect these marginalized communities.
Take-Two Interactive, known for publishing games such as Grand Theft Auto V and the NBA 2K series, made a significant seed contribution to establish the Lawson Fund. Student recipients of the funds will be known as Lawson Scholars.
Gerald A. Lawson led the team that invented interchangeable ROM cartridges used in the Fairchild Channel F, one of the early home gaming consoles that predates the Atari 2600. Born in 1940 in Brooklyn, New York, he credited his interest in science to his first-grade teacher, who inspired him with stories about George Washington Carver. Mr. Lawson became one of the few Black engineers in the gaming industry during its inception when he also developed the arcade game Demolition Derby and was a member of the legendary “Homebrew Computer Club” whose members also included Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Lawson passed away in 2011. His contributions are on permanent display at the World Video Game Hall of Fame at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.
Parties interested in supporting the Lawson Fund can find more information at the Fund’s official website.
Chris Jarrard posted a new article, Gerald A. Lawson Endowment Fund supports Black and Indigenous students in game creation