Niantic is the latest company to outline how it, as a company, is going to be “A force for good in the world” and “do better.” In a statement from CEO and founder John Hanke offering its support for the Black community, shared on both Twitter and its official blog, he outlined specific steps it will be taking to use in order to potentially offer “sustainable, long-term change.” In short, Niantic will be making donations to programs, funding projects from Black gaming and AR creators, and working internally to better the company. Pokemon GO Fest 2020 ticket sales will provide funding for part of these endeavors.
Hanke began the four-page statement by going over the Pokemon GO Fest 2020 element. A minimum of $5 million from ticket sale proceeds for the virtual event will be divided among charities and the company’s new fund. Half will go to unnamed “US nonprofit organizations that are helping local communities rebuild.” The other half “will be used to fund new projects from Black gaming and AR creators that can live on the Niantic platform.”
Some other charitable contributions were also named in Hanke’s statement. $100,000 will be given directly by the company to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, which is dedicated to helping Black transgender people. It will also match employee donations to the charity up to $50,000. It will also donate $60,000 to Gameheads, a tech training program for people between the ages of 11-25. $15,000 will go to the Gameheads annual showcase, $20,000 will fund a “Developing for AR 101” program, and $25,000 will be put toward scholarships for potential attendees.
Hanke also talked about how Niantic will work internally to attempt to make the company more aware and inclusive. This includes Diversity and Inclusion training, a Diversity and Inclusion council, and bringing in 10 Treehouse UX/designers and QA analysts for apprenticeships, and giving staff five Flex Days that can be used for volunteering or company events. He also said, “Lastly, we will take a public stance in support of the Black community and reject white supremacy, racism, and police brutality.”
Hanke ended the statement with the following message.
[Niantic is] committed to this cause. These initiatives don’t end with an announcement. The work to follow through will require years of effort to yield the impact we seek. Along the way, we’ll be looking for even more opportunities to deepen these initiatives.
The heart of Niantic is our community of players. It is imperative that we stand up to support our Black Trainers, Agents, and Wizards. We aim to be a force of change committed to the long road ahead of rebuilding a more just and fair system where historical racist divides are overcome and where all are welcomed, valued, and have a fair chance at success. The first step is overcoming the racism and injustice that prevents members of our community from safely enjoying the freedom and pleasure of a simple walk or run outdoors. Black Lives Matter.
Here is the full statement on Twitter.
We stand with the Black community & against white supremacy, racism, & police brutality & condemn the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Nina Pop & countless others. Here's how we’re committing to change #BlackLivesMatter https://t.co/jfYGinhl2e pic.twitter.com/Y0P3f1E2PQ
— Niantic, Inc. (@NianticLabs) June 3, 2020
Pokemon GO, Ingress, and Harry Potter: Wizard Unite are available on Android and Apple iOS devices. Niantic is one of multiple companies to outline how it will offer donations and change internally, with EA also pledging to donate $1 million to charity and create a new volunteering program within the company.