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The Pixel: Urban Arts Newsletter - December

I remember being 18 and starting college with the far-off knowledge that I’d one day have to pay off debt. I remember not worrying about it. I was told I’d graduate in time, get a good job, have lots of support from my parents and their peers and use my many (very expensive) hobbies to beef up my first resume. I never worried where the money to pay off my college debt would come from. Who thinks about that when they’re a teenager? Well - my less privileged peers did. And students from Title 1 communities still worry about that every day. Even as the focus on equity increases, the gaps in opportunities and wealth also increase.

In the last few years, Urban Arts has turned a laser focus on what exactly causes barriers to college attendance and what moves the needle toward overcoming those barriers. We have built robust programming to ensure our students don't experience the insecurities and deterrents their better resourced peers never have to face. We provide students 1:1 support in exploring colleges that meet their personal needs and professional aspirations. We cover all of their application fees. We help them develop their application materials, personal statements and portfolios. We explore relevant scholarships we know they can win. We help them weigh their college options to ensure the best choice is made. We connect them with professionals to explore their unique value in the workforce and develop confidence in themselves to pursue goals. We hire our students back while they're in college, run responsive alumni offerings each month, and connect them to paid internship opportunities. All of this takes a village—faculty, staff, students, alumni, volunteers, corporate partners, and donors.

This month, we are running our annual College Success Appeal. As I write this letter, our "early decision" seniors are finding out about acceptances and scholarships. Just this week, two (!) of our soon-to-be grads won full scholarships to Columbia. That's nearly $600,000 worth of college access.

As Urban Arts's Director of Philanthropy, I spend my days doing the one thing most people dread—talking about money. But each day I'm emboldened because at Urban Arts, money equals life-changing student outcomes. In the spirit of giving that moves so many at this time of year, I ask you to put your charitable dollars in a place where they will be amplified and multiplied. If you have ever benefited from a leg up from a mentor's support or felt like you had choices on how to reach your goals, now is the time to pay it forward. Every dollar invested will be matched (up to $50,000) by long time Urban Arts donors, Bill and Amy Conway!

Enjoy this month's Pixel Newsletter, and please take a moment at the end to consider your gift.

Happy Holidays and Thank You!

Genevieve King, Director of Philanthropy


Student Stories: Mabel

People who are mentored during core years of early professional development are 130% more likely to end up in leadership positions.

Mabel came with her mother and sister to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic in 2014. “When I heard about Urban Arts, I had never thought what was possible for a Hispanic woman in this field.”

Mabel is now a freshman at Fordham University. “My main support system has always been my mom because we came to the United States together when I didn't know anyone and the language was new. Because college would require a new environment all over again. having an extended community was very important to me.”

Mabel’s Urban Arts mentor, Chad Rocco, of Amazon Game Studios and previously is a powerful part of that community.

“During the pandemic, I was mentored by Chad. He has worked for the country's leading game publishers as the head of narrative departments. We still talk to this day. He has taught me many valuable lessons about life and about myself. He even wrote my recommendation letter for large scholarships.”

Chad continues to be a source of career connectivity for her. “I can’t wait to see what Mabel does next,” says Chad. “I hope I can keep being part of the team that makes good things happen for her.”

Urban Arts now stewards hundreds of mentorships for our advanced students and alumni with dedicated professionals from a variety of industries. We know it is a critical piece of long-lasting success.

If you give $250 today, you will allow Urban Arts to pair another young adult like Mabel in an 8-week, 1:1 mentorship.


IT’S OFFICIALLY OFFICIAL: Microsoft will be the honoree at The Color Ball. Our annual gala brings together powerbrokers from tech, media, and entertainment with inspired students from Urban Arts. This year we’re celebrating Open World, a digital space with real-world applications. Go out for good and secure your ticket today!

March 8th, 2023 | 6:30 - 11pm ET

The Ziegfeld Ballroom, 141 W 54th St, New York, NY 10019

For more information, contact Genevieve King at


The Buzz at Urban Arts: Amy Patterson, PhD

"Education is a multi-player game—ourselves, students, teachers, families, friends, in an open world of learning & discovery."

Urban Arts's very own Amy Patterson, PhD, Director of School of Interactive Arts / Foundations, gave a TED Masterclass talk at NYSCATE (The New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education) in November. She spoke about how educators can use video game design as an entry point to teach computer science and higher level coding.

Amy brings Urban Arts programming to public schools in NYC and nationwide! She comes to Urban Arts after a career spanning administration, education, writing, and academia.

Impressive individuals like Amy are who make Urban Arts so successful. Join us each month to learn more about our fantastic staff, and join us in thanking Amy for a job well done!


Mentor Mania. Take-Two Interactive

Three years ago, Take-Two Interactive launched a student mentoring program at Urban Arts which has become a key piece of student success. Now, many of our partners join Take-Two in mentoring. In early December, Take-Two launched a new format for mentoring where employee volunteers help our advanced Studio teams develop their fully playable games. Take-Two "Studio Mentors" are sharing in-depth skills in game design and development with students who will be entering the industry in just a few years.

"I was able to understand more about the game industry as a whole along with the many roles in a game team. My mentor has been very educational and informational throughout the meetings. Overall, I’m learning a lot throughout this program."

- Take-Two mentee Meghan Mui


Visit A Classroom

During the pandemic, we maintained a 84% student attendance rate. How? Our success was due to our highly-engaging education model, our student-centered curricula, and our deeply invested faculty—plus brand new connective technologies. We are now operating in a hybrid capacity and can host guests online or in person at our Flatiron Learning Lab. Please click below to schedule a visit.

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