Oakland’s Damon Packwood Named 2016 Echoing Green Fellow

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Echoing Green, a global organization that supports social entrepreneurs, announced that Damon Packwood has received a highly competitive Fellowship to help launch Oakland-based tech program Gameheads.

“It is an incredible honor to be named an Echoing Green fellow and learn from this global network of people who are grappling with solutions to some of our biggest challenges,” said Damon Packwood.

Echoing Green, a global organization that supports social entrepreneurs, announced that Damon Packwood has received a highly competitive Fellowship to help launch Oakland-based tech program Gameheads.

As a Fellow, Damon Packwood will become part of a select global network of leaders identified by Echoing Green as dramatic, scalable, and important to the progress of the world. Gameheads will receive seed funding of $80,000. Fellows also will access a community of funders, investors, and entrepreneurs across issue areas, geographies and disciplines. The 33 exceptional innovators in the 2016 Fellowship class will further develop social enterprises that address some of the world’s most intractable challenges around economic development, racial and gender equality, food security, and the environment.

“It is an incredible honor to be named an Echoing Green fellow and learn from this global network of people who are grappling with solutions to some of our biggest challenges,” said Packwood. “As the founder of a video game development program, one of the most difficult parts of my job is convincing adults that this interactive medium is a valuable and impactful way to teach tech to youth. I am deeply grateful to Echoing Green for believing in this vision, and for helping us better serve the next generation of tech zealots, digital rebels, and multimedia mavericks.”

Fiscally sponsored by United Roots, Gameheads is an innovative program that gives low-income youth and youth of color hands-on training in video game design and development to prepare them for careers in the entertainment and technology industries. Gameheads trains students to conceive of and design games, building skills across fields necessary to thrive in tech, from coding to visual art, creative writing, design thinking, project management, team collaboration, animation, and theory. Its vision is to diversify the video game and technology industries while elevating the voices of youth and communities of color by empowering them to create interactive content that can enrich us all. According to The Kaiser Family Foundation, African American youth between the ages of 8 and 18 play games at least 30 minutes more per day than white youth, while Hispanics play an average of 10 minutes more.

"The Gameheads program has been a strategic partnership for United Roots, and they are providing much needed tech training to youth members of our Youth Impact Hub Oakland co-working space,” said Galen Silvestri, executive director of United Roots. “Gameheads engages youth at United Roots that would generally not get a chance to interface with the tech industry, and gives them the tools to innovate in ways that benefit their communities, while also giving them the skills to thrive in the local economy."

For nearly 30 years, Echoing Green has provided a launch pad for projects with a purpose. It has served as an early and important investor in the growing field of social entrepreneurship. This year, the organization reviewed 2,077 applications from 120 countries, which represent meaningful trends from the front lines of social change.

“As an institution that sees entrepreneurship as a means to disrupt narratives and create pathways for social change, Echoing Green is so inspired by the talent and vision held by each member of the 2016 class,” says Echoing Green president Cheryl L. Dorsey. “Global warming, racism, pollution, food and water scarcity – these are just some of the world’s most daunting problems. We believe in the tremendous power of these projects to bring about solutions.”

Throughout its history, Echoing Green has invested more than $42 million in seed-stage funding and strategic assistance to over 700 world-class leaders driving positive social change in more than 70 countries. Echoing Green also supports the Fellow community long after their initial funding period through ongoing programs and opportunities at critical points in their careers.

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About Gameheads

Gameheads is an Oakland-based tech justice program at United Roots’ Youth Impact Hub that aims to prepare youth (ages 15-24) for careers in the video game and technology industries. Participants of Gameheads learn how to create, code and design games, building skills across a variety of disciplines from visual art, creative writing, design, programming, sound design, animation, game theory and history. We combine video game design and development with education and career counseling, industry exposure, and hands-on training. For more information: http://www.gameheadsoakland.org.

About Echoing Green

For nearly 30 years, Echoing Green has supported next-generation talent in solving the world’s biggest problems. These leaders spend their lives working with purpose and define their generations. They make society better. Echoing Green has established a global community of emerging leaders – over 700 and growing – who have launched Teach For America, City Year, One Acre Fund, SKS Microfinance, and more. Echoing Green is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that raises funds to support its mission. Through its Fellowships and other innovative leadership initiatives, Echoing Green unleashes tracks down the best and the brightest leaders, brings them together, and launches them on their path to success. Echoing Green drives social progress further, faster.

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