Niantic Details Black Lives Matter Donations and Internal Steps

Niantic details a lot of steps in its latest statement.

Niantic, known for the popular mobile game Pokemon GO, has outlined actions that the company is taking to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests against systematic racism.

Starting the post, John Hanke says, “Like many of you, I have struggled with finding the right words, emotions, and actions to deal with the unease and unrest we’re seeing as a result of the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, and countless other Black people.”

“The leadership team and I are aligned to do what we can to make the company a force for good in the world. At the same time, we want Niantic to be a source of stability and support in these troubled times. ” he continues. Hanke encourages employees to reach out to the listed departments if they’re struggling and need help. He then goes on to detail the steps the company is taking, “what can Niantic do? How can we use our platform to effect sustainable, long-term change?”

Hanke talks about exploring the world, stating that Niantic strives to make the world better by encouraging players to do just that. While he doesn’t specifically mention the games, it’s clear he’s talking about exploring the world through either going outside in general, but also through the mobile games Pokemon GO and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

Niantic wants to make a “powerful, scalable impact is through the culture, ideas, and role models we help to create. To achieve that, we are going to fund projects from Black creators and will bring the best of those creations to a mass audience where they can shine a light on characters, story, and points of view that validate the lives and experiences of the Black community.”

In addition, Hanke states that “We’ll be donating Niantic proceeds from Pokémon GO Fest 2020 ticket sales, committing a minimum of $5 million.” with half of those proceeds being used to “fund new projects from Black gaming and AR creators that can live on the Niantic platform”. The other half will be going off to “US nonprofit organizations that are helping local communities rebuild.”

Additionally, Niantic will be donating “$100,000 to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute and doing an employee match of up to $50,000.” Hanke details this choice by explaining, ” Black trans people continue to be killed at higher rates than Black cis people and non-Black LGBTQ+ people. In honor of the Black Lives Matter movement and of Pride Month, the Diversity and Inclusion team and the executive leadership team believe this donation is the right thing to do to support those who are most vulnerable to police brutality and other systems of oppression.”

As for internal support, Niantic will be developing new Diversity and Inclusion training across the company with focus on allyship training. The company will also increase its commitment to Treehouse, and will be bringing on five UX/Designers and five QA analysts for apprenticeships as well as hiring 80-100% after apprenticeships.

The company will be expanding support to Gameheads as well, donating $25,000 in scholarships, sponsoring annual showcases with $15,000, and donating $20,000 to “create a new “Developing for AR 101” program where students can earn college accreditation in partnership with Cal State.”

Employees will be getting Flex Days, allowing them five Flex Days a year to attend a Niantic event or volunteer. Hanke explains that the company will be formalizing its D&I council to ensure the company is held accountable for all of the commitments. The company will also be continuing efforts in the future “for even more opportunities to deepen these initiatives”

Since the murder of George Floyd, companies have been showing support, EA in particular detailed steps similar to the above about how it’s helping and striving to do better. Other companies have been donating, and it’s been lovely to see everyone coming together.

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