Spin Master will be considering the expansion of its new Future of Play Scholarship Programme across its 28 global offices, based on the level of interest expressed within the individual markets.
Last week, the global entertainment powerhouse and toy maker detailed the launch of a programme to support the education and career advancement of individuals from under-represented communities across the toys, entertainment, and digital games sectors.
Through its Future of Play Scholarship, the firm has committed to investing up to $100,000 a year in financial aid, as well as mentorship and on the job experience for individuals from under-represented communities, including BIPOC, women, LGBTQIA+, and indigent students seeking post-secondary education with toy design, creative production, digital gaming, and app development.
The launch of the programme follows findings across all three sectors – toys, animation, and gaming – that suggest vast under-representation for many communities, including the matter that black inventors file for patents at one third the rate of white inventors. Similar patent disparities have been uncovered for women, who in 2019 accounted for just 22 per cent of US patents. Research also found that families in the top one per cent of income are ten times more likely to produce patent holders than families in the lower half.
Elsewhere, 2015 research in the animation space found that 60 per cent of animation students are women, yet men make up almost 80 per cent of animators in the workforce, according to Women in Animation data. Representation is even lower for women of colour working in animation, who are in less production roles than their white counterparts.
“At Spin Master, we create toys that inspire, characters that entertain and story lines that empower children around the world to be positive members in their communities,” Tammy SMitham, Spin Master’s VP of global communications and corporate citizenship, told Licensing.biz.
“We want to ensure that our teams creating these toys, games, and series are representative of the diverse communities in which we live and work and that children experience in their daily lives.”
With 28 offices around the world, Spin Master has stated that it will consider expanding the Scholarship programme outside of the US and across its global market based on the interest expressed by each.
“The industry is already having conversations and taking steps to increase diverse representation,” continued Smitham. “What needs to be considered is that not only are the toys, series, and experiences we create more inclusive, but that the people behind the scenes, creating, innovating, and telling the stories are diverse and representative of the kids and families they entertain.”
While the company has highlighted a commitment of $100,000 to the programme, as well as the offer of internships at Spin Master with the potential for full-time employment upon the completion of studies, the toy maker is also keen to see word of the initiative spread among networks, with an eye on awarding more scholarships that originally planned, should the firm receive more applications that expected.
“We want to be a contributor to the movement to increase diverse representation within our industry and within our company,” said Smitham. “At Spin Master we believe that diversity of thought can fuel new ideas and further innovations which will only benefit the children and families we entertain.
“We hope that our Future of Play Scholarship helps to increase representation in the industry as a whole, while also helping students who may have thought they couldn’t pursue their career dreams in the children’s entertainment industry because of lack of opportunity or funding.
“By increasing diverse representation, we can ultimately deliver even more inspiration to the children who we engage with every day.”