When Nich Thomas and David Le first learned about the Best Buy Teen Tech Center® program, they knew the possibilities were endless for youth. But they had no idea what was in store for themselves.
They’re the first Best Buy store employees to be hired on as coordinators at Teen Tech Centers. These safe learning spaces, located around the country, are spots where teens can check out the latest technology and get connected with mentors who can help guide their career and educational aspirations.
“Helping youth achieve their goals and being a part of their success excites me!” David said.
It’s a perfect fit for Nich and David, who spent years at different stores teaching Best Buy customers about the possibilities that technology can unlock. That’s exactly what Teen Tech Centers aim to do for young people.
Our goal is to support 100 Teen Tech Center locations nationwide and reach 30,000 teens annually by 2025.
Seeing the bigger picture
Nich was inspired to pursue the career move after spending five years as a digital imaging team lead at Store 281 in Richfield, Minnesota. He assisted customers with camera tips and tricks, as well as facilitating photography workshops — expertise that’s in demand at Teen Tech Centers.
“I felt the call to step into a role where I could share my photography knowledge and impact youth,” Nich said.
After a member of the Best Buy Social Impact Team visited Nich’s store and shared some information about the centers, Nich explored job opportunities and noticed an opening at the Summit Academy OIC powered by Koch Trucking Center in North Minneapolis. He applied and was hired.
Almost two years in, Nich has continued to lead summer programs and an annual rap challenge. One of his favorite moments was watching a teen put on a virtual reality headset and explore the building they created as part of the center’s architectural design studio.
“They got to ‘walk through’ their building design for the first time, and it was amazing to see how excited they were to see something they created on a large immersive scale all around them,” he said. “The connection from having an idea, to designing it, to actually seeing the final piece was really fun for them.”
Connecting to the next generation
In 2021, David began his coordinator career at the newly renovated Teen Tech Center at the Boys and Girls Club of the Twin Cities – Jerry Gamble Club powered by Al and Kathy Lenzmeier & EY, also located in North Minneapolis. David decided to make the move after seven years of working at Store 329 in Maple Grove, Minnesota. He saw it as a way to connect with the next generation.
“When I was in the store, I learned about technology and how to sell it,” he said. “Now I’ll teach and mentor youth on how to use it.”
The center is planning a July grand opening, and David has been preparing the space by designing photography and art programs for the teens. Given the rise of new musical artists, conversations about adding a music program to the curriculum list are also happening.
“Eventually, I’d like to have experts other than myself teach music production over the summer,” he said.
David is counting down the days to the grand opening. He’s most excited to share the skills and experience he’s gained at Best Buy with the center’s participants. He hopes that it will encourage them to pursue their dreams.
“My goal is to help the teens find and shape their passion,” he said. “And then watch their passions come to life.”
Click here to learn more about the Best Buy Teen Tech Center program. Customers also have the opportunity to donate to the program when making purchases in stores or online.