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A Kansas City group helps underserved kids find careers in the esports industry

A group of people stand together shouting while holding a black flag that says "Pioneer".
Sam Kulikov
Members of the KC Pioneers pose with members of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater KC.

The KC Pioneers and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City began a partnership to help connect kids in Kansas City with career opportunities in the world of esports. The groups also collaborated to build an esports lounge in northeast Kansas City, Kansas, and hold multiple youth esports tournaments.

For many kids in the Kansas City metro, video games serve as a fun, recreational activity to escape the problems of daily life. But few lower-income kids are able access the latest generation of hardware or newest AAA game releases, which can be expensive.

The KC Pioneers esports organization is working with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City to help close those gaps in access and connect underserved youth with opportunities for careers in the esports industry.

“Our primary mission is to serve youth from disadvantaged circumstances and bridge that digital divide,” said Sycil Proffitt, healthy lifestyles programs liaison with the Boys & Girls Club.

Through a partnership formed in August 2021, the two groups have worked on several projects together, such as the construction of an esports lounge in northeast Kansas City, Kansas, and multiple youth esports tournaments.

Sam Kulikov, chief marketing executive for the KC Pioneers, says he hopes the partnership will do more to show kids the opportunities esports can give them.

“Having them play games all the time doesn't necessarily satiate that responsibility for giving them new ideas and pathways to success,” said Kulikov. “We want to expose them to different careers that exist in that space.”

Proffitt and Kulikov say that they hope to continue to grow the esports industry in Kansas City so that even more kids might have the opportunity to find success within it.

“We're having a heavy focus on local and community impact here in Kansas City,” Kulikov said. “There's going to be a lot more coming up.”

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