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ISA student to make positive change with video game grant


Mia Benavidez, ISA Junior

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s (HHF) Leaders on the Fast Track (LOFT) announced Mia Benavidez, a student at the International School of the Americas (ISA), as a recipient of the ESA LOFT Video Game Innovation Fellowship along with 19 other minority youth from across the country. The 20 ESA LOFT Video Game Innovation Fellows, aged 15 to 25, were awarded grants for creating video games that seek solutions to problems in their communities.

Mia Benavidez is currently a junior at ISA and the only recipient from Texas. She developed an application called “Cards for a Cause: App for literacy" with the Apps for Aptitude team. As a Fellow, Benavidez was awarded a trip to Washington, D.C., where she presented her ideas to influencers and policymakers. In addition, she received a $1,000 grant to further her ideas.

Benavidez had the opportunity to sit in a seminar titled, "Gaming for Good: Redefining Innovation and STEM for Youth", which took place in the Senate Visitor Center. She also visited the Eisenhower Executive Office Building for a White House Briefing and attended the ESA/HHS-LOFT Reception.

“At the core of the ESA LOFT Video Game Innovation Fellowship is the belief that using technology for social change or career paths is essential to not only the advancement of minority communities, but America as a nation,” said Jose Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of HHF. “Through this creative partnership with the ESA, we are engaging youth on their terms, through video games. The link from playing a video game to developing one to computer coding, cybersecurity and other skills gap areas is evident and that’s also what we are trying to leverage through this program. Mia's idea for a video game demonstrates the impact her creativity and knowledge can have on society.”

“The ESA LOFT Video Game Innovation Fellowship shows how games are more than a means of entertainment, but also a valuable tool for change in our society,” said Rich Taylor, senior vice president of communications and industry affairs at the ESA. “We are proud to offer this opportunity that will help create real change in minority communities through the unique platform only video games can provide.”

The Video Game Innovation Fellows, and their games, were selected based on their vision, creativity, and potential impact on their community. Benavidez's project will be tracked by the LOFT team to sustain the impact of their effort.

More information about Apps for Aptitude can be found at
More information about the other Fellows can be found at

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