That’s a wrap on this year’s Unity for Humanity Summit. We’ve pulled together our favorite moments and takeaways in case you weren’t able to make it or just wanted to relive the highlights.
During the Summit, we announced that applications for the Unity for Humanity 2023 Grant are open. Submit your social impact project for a share of $500,000 USD in funding, plus technical support and mentorship.
We met so many incredible social impact creators using Unity in innovative ways to drive change. If you have a similar project, the Unity for Humanity Grant is open for applications to help support you in making your vision a reality.
Grant recipients will receive a bespoke grant from a pool of $500,000 USD, plus mentorship and technical support to help bring their project to life. Your project must be currently in production and align with one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For application details and criteria, please visit the Unity for Humanity FAQ. Don’t have a prototype ready this year but want to pre-register for next year’s grant? Sign up to be one of the first to hear when the next grant is live.
“[Receiving the grant] gave us the freedom to create with so much autonomy.”
“Receiving the grant was what made possible for this first chapter of Origen to come off paper and become a reality,” shared Presencias, creators of Origen. “It also gave us the freedom to create with so much autonomy, it allowed us to delve into the artisanal and interdisciplinary part of the project, which was crucial to respect its identity.”
Actor and activist Rosario Dawson joined us to share her vision for the future – which she believes is possible thanks to the remarkable potential of technology and the impact of creators.
“We used to be all around the fire: the medicine woman, the warrior, the mother, the father, the child, the person who worked with the animals, and the food. Everyone had an equal space around that fire where they came together as a community. And, as industry built up, we started going into that pyramid shape where it was just the few people at the top and all the workers at the bottom,” she shared. “What’s remarkable now, with this technology, is we get to open up that portal, and get that light in our face and be back around the fire again – through our watches and our tablets and our phones.”
So why does she have so much faith that technology will change the world? In Dawson’s words, “I know that we’re getting there because this generation is coming in hot. They are looking at the problems that we have perpetuated up until this moment and they are factoring in. They are being so conscious and intentional with what they are making and creating, and that just gives me a lot of hope.”
In one session, attendees met students from Spelman College, Urban Arts Partnership, and Generation Pakistan. These remarkable organizations provide STEM education to underserved students, to skill-up more students, provide more career opportunities, and diversify the tech industry.
Since its inception, Urban Arts has served more than 250,000 students across 150 New York City public schools. Their mission is to provide students from low-income communities with a high quality education in an industry lacking workforce diversity.
Generation is on a mission to transform education-to-employment systems and help prepare, place, and support people into life-changing careers that would otherwise be inaccessible. Unity partners with Generation to run a 3-month training bootcamp in Pakistan, that not only teaches participants Unity skills, but also provides mentorship, employer site visits and support to place them in a career upon graduation.
A 2022 graduate of the program, Farwar Bashir, shared, “The course improved my Unity skills, but also focused on our personality and built up our professional skills. It wasn’t just Unity – it was also how to deal with challenges and solutions that we would face in the real-time industry.”
“When I came out of the interview room, I had the biggest smile on my face, and I knew in my heart that yes I got the job,” added fellow graduate Humaira Salamat. “I received a call the day after the interview, 'yes you got the job, please come to our office for negotiation of your salary'.”
“It wasn’t just Unity – it was also how to deal with challenges and solutions that we would face in the real-time industry.”
We heard from a number of creators using Unity to fight climate change and protect the planet. Former Unity for Humanity grant winners shared insights into their projects and gave attendees an update on their progress.
For example, Gone to Water is currently in production and has an anticipated release on STEAM VR in February 2023. “Gone to water” is a term that describes the process by which an oil well becomes unproductive and therefore unprofitable, eventually filling with water.
According to Cat Ross, designer and researcher for Love Death Design, “We chose to apply for [Unity] support to create this immersive documentary on urban oil extraction and its community health impacts on Tongva Land – in South Los Angeles – because, for those most affected by environmental racism, it is a matter of survival. Los Angeles is considered a microcosm of the world for its rich cultural contributions, but it is also a snapshot of environmental injustices faced by BIPOC and low-income communities throughout the world.”
Drop in the Ocean, another grant-winning project, is a 10-minute social VR adventure where audiences hitch a ride on a jellyfish and encounter the mysteries of the deep. Most importantly, participants experience the plastic pollution crisis from the viewpoint of sea life. Read more about this project in a blog from one of the creators.
“Through 2023, we will be exploring staging Drop in the Ocean at the most important environmental and climate action conferences and events, as well as supporting Conservation International’s outreach activity,” shared Vision3 Immersive Creator and Producer Adam May.
At the “Accessibility Insights for Creators” roundtable we heard from Studio Director of Falling Squirrel Dave Evans, Accessibility Product Manager at Owlchemy Labs Jazmin Cano, and Blind Accessibility Consultant, Gamer, and Developer Lukáš Hosnedl about the importance of creating experiences with accessibility in mind.
During this open conversation we listened as experts discussed the future of accessible gaming and how game developers can add features that will ensure their games can be enjoyed by everyone.
In the “Create with AR Live” workshop, we were introduced to the latest Unity Learn free online course, Create with AR. This 13-hour, self-paced course will teach you how to create your own AR (augmented reality) face filter app.
As we unlock the potential of AR apps, these skills are increasingly growing in demand, so now is a great time to add AR to your Unity skill set.
What was your favorite part of this year’s Summit? To keep up with Unity for Humanity year round, visit the program website and sign up to our mailing list for social impact creator news and inspiration.