Jacqueline Arana is a high school sophomore in Los Angeles who credits access to technology and advice from mentors for inspiring her goals of law school and filmmaking.
It wouldn’t be possible without the Bresee Youth Center, which recently joined with Best Buy to create a Teen Tech Center. It’s a state-of-the-art facility where students learn a wide range of tech skills, including digital filmmaking, 3-D design, coding and app development.
Jacqueline is already loving the new center and getting access to the latest tech, including being able “to use the cameras the professionals use.”
More underserved teens like her will soon have access to free technology tools and training. Why? Best Buy announced Tuesday that it plans to open nine new Teen Tech Centers in 2017. The expansion will give Best Buy a network of 20 Teen Tech Centers nationwide. Plans are already underway to open centers in Atlanta and San Diego early next year. The company is targeting additional urban markets, such as Las Vegas and Pittsburgh, as well.
Tuesday’s announcement came as Best Buy opened its newest Teen Tech Center in suburban Denver. It’s the last of four new centers to open this year, joining Dallas, L.A. and Oakland, California.
As part of the Denver opening, Best Buy introduced new curriculum that teaches students how to create original pixel art and animation, starting with the design of a character. It will provide teens with skills that lay the foundation for potential careers as engineers, graphic designers, creative producers and architects. That curriculum will roll out to all Teen Tech Centers and Geek Squad Academy summer camps next year.
Teen Tech Centers are places to engage, inspire
Since 1995, Best Buy has invested nearly $300 million in the communities it serves. For the past five years, the company has focused its support on programs that use technology to inspire and engage underserved teens. The goal is to help them prepare for college and their future careers.
In the coming decade, 77 percent of all jobs will require technology skills, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, there’s an opportunity gap for urban teens, many of whom lack tools like computers and internet connections or the skills to use them.
The Teen Tech Centers aim to address those disparities and turn potential into possibilities.
“We are going into neighborhoods where teens really don’t have a lot of options,” said Andrea Wood, Best Buy’s director of community relations. “I’ve actually seen teens typing papers on their phones because that’s the only access they have to technology.”
And a Teen Tech Center isn’t just a computer lab. It’s a creative space where teens can explore their passions and develop marketable skills.
“I don’t think I would have taken the path that I did if I wouldn’t have had the center and these opportunities,” Jacqueline said.
To learn more about Best Buy’s community support, visit the Community Relations page on BestBuy.com.