ASCEND Press Release

Esports and Gaming Executives and Universities Partner to Produce the First Ever Virtual HBCU Esports Conference and Career Expo

December 4, 2020/Charlotte, N.C. Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) is excited to announce its involvement in producing the first ever virtual HBCU Esports Conference and Career Expo. The 2021 ASCEND HBCU Esports Conference and Expo will feature speakers representing a myriad of for profit and non-profit corporations within the esports and gaming ecosystem, including Riot Games and Intel.

The ASCEND HBCU Esports Conference and Career Expo will be hosted virtually on Friday, February 5, 2021, approximately two days before the 2021 NFL Super Bowl, which will be held in Tampa, FL. The timing of this event strategically positions it to serve as a connector between the gaming and sports industries. However, the primary focus of the ASCEND HBCU Esports Conference and Career Expo is to enable HBCU students, faculty, staff, and constituents from
across the nation to ASCEND, which is an acronym for Accessing Sources to Catalyze Esports/Gaming Needs & Address Diversity. This event provides them with the opportunity to gain insight into the esports and gaming industries while interacting with industry executives.

Another goal of the ASCEND HBCU Esports Conference and Career Expo is to increase support for STEAM education in low-income communities and to improve financial inclusion for underrepresented innovators. Although the esports and gaming industries are growing rapidly, only 2% of professionals in the gaming industry identify as African Americans while 83% of African American teens play video games. This disparity serves as the impetus for the creation of the ASCEND HBCU Esports Conference and Career Expo.

The ASCEND HBCU Esports Conference and Career Expo will present a unique collective opportunity for faculty, staff, and students representing two Historically Black and College and Universities (HBCU) institutions: Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) and Morgan State University, and one Predominantly White Institution (PWI) St. Petersburg College. They will partner together to execute various aspects of the event’s production such as: drafting press releases, introducing conference speakers, and assisting with managing the virtual Conference platform.

“As the first HBCU to boast an Esports and Gaming Trifecta: Esports and Gaming Management academic program/Certificate program, Esports Lab, and Esports Club/Game Development Club, we are elated to be a viable part of this historic Conference, which we believe will singlehandedly transform the esports and gaming landscape one HBCU and one controller at a time,” said Dr. BerNadette Lawson-Williams, Advisor of JCSU’s Esports and Gaming Trifecta,
which is housed in the University’s Metropolitan College of Professional Studies.

“In 2017, the non-profit organization Prosperity Now estimated that the median wealth of the Black community will fall to zero by 2050. The Black community over-indexes as consumers of gaming and esports, but is grossly underrepresented as value creators in the $174B gaming industry. This conference is critical in preparing the Black community to build generational
wealth in a digital economy,” added Marcus “Esports” Howard, CEO of MetArena.

In addition to being granted industry insight and an exposure to career opportunities, ASCEND HBCU Esports Conference and Career Expo attendees will also be eligible to win prizes on behalf of their institutions. Thanks to support from GAME Credits, the world’s first gaming cryptocurrency, this digital event will be hosted in Decentraland. By attending this event, HBCUs will also be introduced to blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. PayPal recently added support for bitcoin payments and the price of bitcoin has grown over $7K in the last month. Also, Facebook is launching its own cryptocurrency next month. Blockchain and cryptocurrency are evolving the future of tech, and it’s important that HBCUs keep the Black community involved in that future. “This marks a historic first with an esports event of this size being hosted in a decentralized metaverse and may well open the door for more esports companies to adopt the virtual world.” – Jason Cassidy, CEO of GAME Credits.

The ASCEND HBCU Esports Conference and Career Expo will be hosted in a blockchain ecosystem. Therefore, if you do not already have a crypto wallet, you will need to create one prior to registering.

Registration Instructions

For more information regarding the ASCEND HBCU Esports Conference and Career Expo, contact Marcus “Esports” Howard at: