by Erich and Jakita Thomas
This past year has been quite a year. Continuing to power through a global pandemic has only empowered us to keep pushing through in the face of adversity. 2021 has also been a year of growth and success for Pharaoh's Conclave. We had some really awesome wins in 2021, and we are thrilled to see what 2022 will bring! Learn more about some of our wins from 2021, our goals for 2022, and how you can help!
Wishing you good times, good cheer and a memorable new year.
All of us at PCX want to thank you for your business, guidance, and support this past year. We made a lot of strides and impacted a lot of lives through eSports and gaming! Here are some of our big wins from 2021.
DoorDash Game Design Competition
We launched the DoorDash Game Design Challenge, an opportunity for individuals to design a mobile game about some aspect of food (e.g., delivery, sustainability, nutrition, etc.). Now is your chance to win your share of$35,000.00 in scholarships and prizes. In addition to scholarships and prizes, winners in each division (Mini, Junior, Youth, and Minority Serving Institution (collegiate)) will also have their games featured in the DoorDash app. The judging period has begun, and the winners will be announced soon.
Youth Esports League Season 2
The Youth eSports League (YeL) had an exciting season in 2021 and we hosted our first YeL National Championship and Conference. This 2-day conference prepared youth for esports careers in the eSports and gaming industries by exposing the entry points to esports careers, introducing K-12 youth, their families, educators, and youth workers to the esports industry, and showcasing the outcomes of PCX members as they develop expertise in their chosen esports career.
The Youth eSports League National Championship & Conference featured the Tournament Play for teams and individuals from the Eastern and Western Conferences of the Youth eSports League. It also featured Industry-Focused Panel Discussions and Workshops to provide immersive experiences designed to expose attendees to industry professionals, chronicling the journey of their career and the pathways they took to get there.
We're so thankful to all the speakers and sponsors that participated and help bring this event to life! Congratulations to all of our individual National Champions in the Mini, Junior, and Youth divisions. A special congrats go out to the National Champion Loadstones of Rockdale Magnet High School for Science & Technology who defeated the Jaguars of the Southern University Laboratory School and secured a team win. Over those two days, we awarded over $10,000.00 in scholarships to our winners. We know the youth had a great time, and we're already looking forward to our next season!
Subscribe to our twitch channel (PharaohsConclaveTV) to stay up to date and sign up for Season 3 today!
Check out a recap of the 2021 Youth eSports League National Championship & Conference, which also features some of our amazing sponsors:
Google for Startups
In 2020, PCX was selected for the inaugural cohort of the Google for Startups Founders Academy, and later that year, we were awarded $100,000 in non-dilutive capital from the Black Founders Fund. Our partnership with Google continued in 2021, and Erich and Jakita were featured in an animated commercial depicting the work we do at PCX, why we do this work, and our impact. It was really humbling to have our work and our impact visualized in this way, and we are grateful to Google for their continued support. Check out the commercial below:
Camelback Ventures Fellowship
PCX received $40,000.00 in funding from Camelback Ventures, and we joined 10 other founders from social-impact ventures across the country in leadership and venture development toward building ventures that center people and impact as well as profits. This three-month journey was a truly transformative experience for our co-founders, and it positioned PCX to accelerate our growth in 2022, which you can read more about in this newsletter.
We hope to expand our community of fellow entrepreneurs who are also building companies to provide social impact and support our youth. We hope to engage with mentors, and we hope to continue developing ourselves, our company, and the way we communicate about our company. The ability to impact youth and help them marry their passion and purpose to careers is what propelled us into the entrepreneurial space. We love being able to directly impact young people, and we love seeing where that impact takes them in terms of the amazing things they accomplish in their careers and their lives.
PCX was also selected for the inaugural cohort of Gravity, an accelerator that harnesses the power of networks to ensure otherwise underestimated founders shine. Created by The Reinvention Lab in partnership with Teach for America, PCX gained leadership development and connected to some key partners that accelerated the realization of our strategic vision and have propelled us into 2022 with crazy momentum.
Morris Brown College Wall Breaking Ceremony & Grand Opening
In February, Dr. Kevin James, president of Morris Brown College (MBC) and PCX announced the Ronald Floyd Thomas Center for Esports & Innovation center during a "wall breaking" ceremony.
Morris Brown College became the first institution in the state of Georgia to start an innovation program in eSports performance.
"There are thousands, hundreds of thousands of jobs that go unclaimed by people who are not prepared to take them," said Erich, " and so what we're gonna do with the vision of Dr. James is to prepare those young people not just at the college level, but we're pipeline cradle to career."
As a way to target 11th and 12th graders, James wants to start a dual enrollment program where "they will have 24 hours of collegiate credit that they can transfer to another school or come straight to Morris Brown and finish their bachelor's degree."
In conjunction with Google, The Arthur M. Blank Foundation, and DoorDash gave donations to Pharaoh's Conclave and the Thomas Family Fund and then paid it forward by giving $160,000 to MBC to start the program and build the innovation center.
This was a monumental event for PCX and a major step in creating pathways into the esports ecosystem!
That fall, PCX awarded full scholarships to the first two eSports degree majors at MBC!
Later that year, in October, PCX celebrated the grand opening of the Ronald Floyd Thomas Center for Esports & Innovation during MBC's Homecoming celebration. The celebration also included the HBCU Showdown hosted by McDonald's and iHeart Radio in partnership with Axis Replay and PCX and held in the Ronald Floyd Thomas Center for Esports & Innovation at MBC. We are grateful for the leadership of Dr. Kevin James, President of MBC. Check out a shout out from the parent of one of our PCX Scholars at MBC as well as a recap from the grand opening below:
102.6 The Morning Show & 92.3 The Business Brief
"We were so excited to be on 102.6 The Situation's Morning Show at Morris Brown College! It was an awesome experience to get to sit down and talk about our journey through gaming and how we have been working to pioneer esports education and prepare youth for esports careers. Take a minute to tune in and listen to learn all the exciting things PCX has been working on the past year and how you can be involved!"
Listen to the full show on our blog!
PCX's co-founder, Erich Thomas, served as a guest and later as a guest host on 92.3's "The Business Brief".
We were so excited to launch our podcast, GAMeFi, last year! We aired Season 1 and the start of Season 2 over the course of 2021. GAMeFi is a podcast where we talk all things gaming, art, music, esports, and film with the Black and Brown folks creating and innovating. We were also selected for Spotify's "Video Podcasts on Spotify" Program in partnership with Anchor.
You can watch our first podcast below and be sure to stay tuned!
Camp LVL Up
PCX is excited about the work we've done preparing K-16 youth for eSports careers this past summer through our second year of Camp LVL Up, our 100% virtual eSports summer camp. Scholars worked hard building their skills in their chosen eSports career pathway supported all summer by our amazing staff (Coach E, Coach A, Coach Andrea, and Dr. J) as well as our proprietary STEM.org accredited online learning platform, LVL UP Academy.
One of the goals of Camp LVL Up was to expose Scholars to the wide array of careers in the eSports industry. We were fortunate to have some INCREDIBLE professionals from various eSports career pathways share their journeys through our Interactive Q & A each Friday with the Scholars and serve as role models and mentors for Scholars going forward.
Over a 6-week period, we engaged over 200 youth across Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee through Camp LVL Up.
We'd like to thank our sponsors, collaborators, and partners for making this possible! Registration for 2022 Camp LVL Up opens THIS MONDAY, January 10th. For more information about Camp LVL Up, please visit the Camp LVL Up site.
Gamers Read Virtual .5K
Gamers Read Virtual .5k (500 m) Walk/Run/Sprint aimed to bring the gaming, cosplay, anime, and running communities and their families together to advocate for literacy, especially among youth in grades K-5.
Attendees joined us at the Chick-fil-a College Football Hall of Frame to complete their Run, Walk, Sprint in the Halloween Pre-Game Fan Experience, then attended the Falcons vs. Panthers Game, enjoyed the HBCU Halftime Show Band Experience, and remained after the game to view the Rocket League Finals on the 360 Degree Jumbo Halo Board.
A huge thanks to the generous support of the community and our partners, PCX will provide gaming equipment and
training for eSports careers to the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) hospitals (Egleston, Scottish Rite, Hughes Spalding) and the youth whom CHOA serves.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, we have had to postpone all of our ribbon-cutting ceremonies at CHOA hospitals, but stay tuned as we hope to be able to conduct those ceremonies during the fall of 2022.
A Look Ahead & How You Can Help
2021 was a year of tremendous growth and impact. As we think toward the year ahead, we are incredibly excited about YeL Season 3, continuing our eSports education pipeline programs, and providing Black and Brown youth an additional alternative to connect their passion for gaming into preparation for a career in the eSports industry.
In 2022, our efforts will focus on the following four primary areas. Each area also includes details about how you can help us achieve our 2022 goals in each target area:
Education & Employment through our PCX Apprenticeship Program. Our program is the only registered apprenticeship program for eSports in the United States and the only program for digital entertainment in the Southeast. We currently have 75 active apprentices across 5 worksites, and our goal is to grow that number to 500 apprentices across GA, FL, TN, AL, SC, NC, LA, and TX by the end of 2022. If your organization (or an
organization you have a relationship with) works with youth ages 16 - 24 in the aforementioned states and you are interested in being a PCX Apprenticeship Program Worksite, please reach out. Additionally, if your organization focuses on game design and development and is interested in hosting interns and co-ops during the summer and academic year, please reach out. Finally, if you are interested in providing scholarships for PCX apprentices enrolled in esports degree and certification programs at our partner colleges and universities, please reach out.
Outreach through our Youth eSports League National Championship, Minority Serving Institutions eSports Classic & Conference, and Camp LVL Up. Our signature events expose the entry points into the eSports and gaming industries and create opportunities for youth to take their first steps toward becoming eSports and gaming professionals. If you are interested in contributing to the scholarship pool, donating prizes, activating at our Expo, and/or sponsoring a workshop, panel, movie screening, or segment of these events (e.g., Tournament Trail, Game Design Challenge, etc.), please reach out. Camp LVL Up creates opportunities for K-12 youth to explore and navigate various eSports and gaming career pathways for 6 weeks during the summer. If you are interested in sponsoring scholarships for students to attend Camp LVL Up, please reach out. All sponsorships/scholarships are made to our non-profit arm, PCX GO!, and are 100% tax-deductible.
Research through the "Black in Gaming" study in partnership with RTS. Pharaoh's Conclave is working on a research effort with RTS to understand the experiences of the Black community in various aspects of casual and competitive gaming. Black people are the largest consumer segment of digital entertainment (including gaming), but make up less than 5% of the industry's workforce. The goals of the "Black in Gaming" study: 1) Highlighting and Centering Black Voices and Experiences in Gaming and Esports; 2) Understanding Inherent Cultural Contexts that create Systemic Differences Between Communities; 3) Recruiting and Highlighting the work of Black Researchers; and 4) Providing Actionable Insights to Establish a Baseline for Further Research. We are currently looking for collaborators and corporate sponsors to support the research effort. Our goal is a minimum of $60k to get the research started. If you are interested in supporting the "Black in Gaming" study, please reach out.
Expanding Partnerships through our network of mentors, current partners, and community who believe in PCX and the work we do. In particular, we are interested in establishing sustained national partnerships with the following organizations: Girl Scouts of America, EA Sports, Champion (athletic wear), Epic Gaming, Covenant House, Goodwill of America, Nike, and ESPN. If you have connections with these organizations at the regional and/or national levels, please reach out.