More often than not you hear the misconceptions about gaming and gamers. But, there is a lot of good that comes from gaming. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you are, gaming unlike any other medium offers a vast opportunity to bring people together for the greater good.

GameStop Gives, the retailer’s social responsibility arm, unites with its associates and guests in supporting charity by using the power of Gaming for Good. What began as a simple donation campaign within GameStop’s stores quickly developed into an even bigger and meaningful awareness campaign for autism spectrum disorder than they could have ever imagined. Fast forward to four years later, GameStop’s Autism Awareness Campaign, celebrating neurodiversity, has raised more than $4.5 million for autism-related programs with the following impact:

  • They were able to fully fund the Autism Speaks iPad grant program, awarding hundreds of iPads for low-income children and adults with autism, who needed the device to assist with communication.
  • They awarded $250,000 in NXT Gen Coders Program grants to 14 organizations to help teach digital skills to people across the autism spectrum. The NXT Gen Coders Program, powered by GameStop and administered by Autism Speaks, launched in 2018 to help tackle the high unemployment or underemployment rate the vast majority of adults with autism face.
  • GameStop Gives partnered with PowerA to create a limited-edition Xbox One wired controller to support the understanding, acceptance and inclusion of people with autism spectrum disorder.
  • In addition, with each purchase of the controller, GameStop Gives is donating a portion of the profits to the nonPareil Institute to help teach adults with autism digital technology skills in various domains, so they can work toward building games and items for the digital marketplace.

“At GameStop, we believe the key to building inclusive, responsible communities starts with supporting the career goals of not just our associates but also those of our guests,” shared Martha Sotelo, GameStop’s head of Corporate Social Responsibility. “Each year, 50,000 young people with autism enter adulthood, expanding a talent pool that is largely untapped. Programs like NXT Gen Coders Program-, powered by GameStop and Autism Speaks, strive to fill this gap by providing digital technology training for individuals with autism.

“Right now, the demand for hiring outpaces the technology talent gap. Bridging the hiring gap for people with autism and for the technology industry is a win-win. It is our hope that by establishing the NXT Gen Coders Program the coding and digital opportunities become innumerable for individuals on the autism spectrum.”

Learn More: The NXT Gen Coders Program

The NXT Gen Coders Program is focused on providing opportunities for coding and programming skill development for people with autism, so that they may be better equipped to take advantage of the one million jobs that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates will be open in the coding industry by 2020. GameStop and Autism Speaks hope that the NXT Gen Coders Program will provide talented young men and women a path to careers that match their training, abilities and interests. The NXT Gen Coders Program provides funding to organizations, schools and universities that teach digital literacy and coding to people with autism, to help prepare them for the competitive job market. With a special focus on teens and college-age students, the NXT Gen Coders Program is also open to children and adults on the autism spectrum, from preschool age through retirement.

About the Author

Jessica Speziale serves as Corporate Communications Director at Voya Financial where she leads internal and external communications strategies, plans and tactics. And, she volunteers as the communications chair for the Tri-State National Diversity Council. Jessica has more than 12 years of experience successfully managing internal and external communications strategies from creation to completion, and then to measurement, for national and international audiences of publicly traded corporations. Industry experience includes health care, architectural/engineering and financial services. She has demonstrated effectiveness leading teams and initiatives, and adds value to large organizations with her strategic thinking and ability to motivate and influence others, including senior executives, to drive business goals.

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