12/26/2014 05:43 pm ET Updated Feb 25, 2015

Propelling Games and Technology Forward By Giving Back

The holiday season is upon us -- the time when we count our own blessings and lend a hand to those in need. The video game industry has much to be thankful for as we continue to witness the robust economic impact that we have on the U.S. economy as well as the positive social impact that we create through the ESA Foundation, our industry's philanthropic arm.

Our industry works toward keeping children healthy and educated all year. The ESA Foundation partnered with Extra Life to support the inaugural ESA Foundation Challenge to raise money for Extra Life, the 24-hour video game marathon that benefits Children's Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals.

This past fall, thousands of gamers came together to raise more than $6 million, making 2014 Extra Life's best year yet. The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Benioff Children's Hospital and Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas both won a $30,000 grant. These hospitals plan to use the funds to expand their health care services for those unable to afford them.

Our industry leaders came together this past fall to support the ESA Foundation at our annual charitable gala, Nite to Unite -- for Kids (NTU). Over the years, NTU has raised more than $13 million to fund individuals and organizations that use entertainment software to positively impact the lives of American youth.

Together, the ESA Foundation and its grantees work together to improve health outcomes, increase civic participation, make the Internet a safer place for kids and expand educational opportunities. So far, we have supported more than 170 women and minority students pursuing degrees in computer and video game arts through our academic scholarship program. These aspiring game developers with diverse backgrounds are the future leaders of our industry. They bring to the table the fresh perspectives and creative ways of thinking and doing that will drive an imaginative and inclusive entertainment industry.

The video game industry is a growing, prospering industry that offers new opportunities to touch millions of lives in so many ways. As 2014 draws to a close, everyone at ESA and the ESA Foundation is filled with gratitude that we can celebrate these important milestones in communities throughout the U.S. We encourage you to join us in supporting these causes.