Philanthropic Foundation Provides Six-Figure Grant to Engage Underrepresented Students in Computational Media

Historically underrepresented students interested in video game design, web development, and other interactive media careers will soon have better access to related degree programs thanks to a substantial financial grant from a leading philanthropic foundation.

The Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation has provided a $500,000 grant to Georgia Tech. The grant will be used to strengthen the pipeline for underrepresented minority students seeking degrees and careers in the growing field of computational media (CM).

“We are very honored and appreciative of this generous support from the Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation. Georgia Tech is one of just five institutions to receive a donation of this size from the foundation,” said Lana Gilyalova, senior director of development for Georgia Tech's College of Computing.

“With this funding, we will be able to build on established relationships with Atlanta’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Agnes Scott College, and others, to create connections between Georgia Tech's CM program and CM-related graduate degrees at the institutions,” said Giyalova.

The College of Computing, the College of Design, and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts collaborated on the grant proposal. Academic advisors, career counselors, and others from the three colleges will team up to develop and implement a collaborative student-support framework based on the funding. The framework will likely include new scholarship and fellowship opportunities, curricular innovations, mentorship programs, job search, and graduate application assistance.

“If we seek new approaches, we need new perspectives,” said Foundation Program Officer Rebekah Frank. “The Foundation’s one-time grants in Diversity and Inclusion in Art, Design, and Computing connect to co-founder Pat Hanrahan’s background and A.M. Turing Award. These grants focus on 1) increasing the diversity of students pursuing interdisciplinary degree programs in arts, design, and computing courses or programs and 2) increasing the quantity and quality of equitable, interdisciplinary art, design, and computing curricula at the five schools.”

Through these measures, the Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation grant is expected to increase the number of historically underrepresented students enrolled in and obtaining degrees from undergraduate and graduate CM and CM-related degree programs. During the Spring 2023 semester, traditionally underrepresented students accounted for 17.2% of BSCM enrollment at Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech’s Bachelor of Science in Computational Media program is a joint offering between the schools of Computing InstructionMusic and Literature, Media and Communication.

"This grant allows us to build on the strong foundation that we have already established in the Computational Media program to prepare students from underrepresented populations for careers as designers, researchers, and artists in various digital fields. We will be using grant funding to develop new courses –for example in Black Media Studies– and to provide scholarships for promising students from target populations,” said Jay Bolter, director of Computational Media at Georgia Tech and the Wesley Chair of New Media in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication.

Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation powers people who explore and ask, teach and try, conserve and connect, create and captivate. Its funding supports individual scientists, teachers, conservationists, and creators whose diverse perspectives enable us to discover new things about ourselves and our world. Learn more about the foundation's partners and work at