South LA’s First Best Buy Teen Tech Center to Open in June, Will Offer Students Music Production, Robotics, Internships & Career Access
Center will provide after-school programming, career exploration opportunities in music production and tech, and mental health resources to teens from local middle and high schools
Starting June 2, hundreds of teens from the South Los Angeles and Van Ness communities will get hands-on access to devices and other technology thanks to a brand-new South LA Best Buy Teen Tech Center. The 2,000 square-foot space, hosted by the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC), will provide teens access to the latest tech tools to help them explore music and vocal production, digital media, robotics, virtual reality, 3D printing, and more. As part of the LA Community Impact Hub this launch is a crucial step in an ongoing effort by Best Buy, the Annenberg Foundation, and Greater LA Education Foundation to address the digital divide in the community. Recent census data estimates that 6.4% of households in Los Angeles County do not have a computer, and 13% lack access to broadband internet.¹ These households are disproportionately located in underserved Black and Latino communities. According to the City of Los Angeles, Black and Latino households are only one-third as likely as White households to have internet access.²“This is next level impact making,” said Joseph T. Rouzan III, President & CEO of Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation, “which will resonate throughout South LA when our youth begin working and are able to build generational wealth on the competitive skills they first learned at the Teen Tech Center.”
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The vision for the space started more than three years ago, when VSEDC teamed up with the AnnenbergTech initiative of the Annenberg Foundation to begin a restoration of the building. VSEDC and Annenberg completed an extensive renovation, adding an event space, a new ADA accessible entrance on Western Ave., and a specially-commissioned mural for the façade of the building by South LA artist Mike Norice.The South LA Teen Tech Center will provide a new physical home for the extensive virtual programming offered by VSEDC during the pandemic. As part of the “soft-opening” for the Teen Tech Center, hundreds of students from local schools will participate in workshops co-hosted with 1500 Sound Academy in May and June.The South Los Angeles Best Buy Teen Tech Center is the third to open in Los Angeles, and is part of a bold effort announced last year by Best Buy, in partnership with the Annenberg Foundation and Greater LA Education Foundation to open up to 12 centers across Los Angeles County by 2023. Best Buy Teen Tech Center® locations are safe, after-school spaces where students will have access to the latest technology and develop critical skills through hands-on activities. The Los Angeles Community Impact Hub partners with existing community-based organizations to host Teen Tech Centers and provide access to technology and other resources to youth in the community. In addition to providing local teens with access to the latest technology, the LA Community Impact Hub will also provide mentorship and other resources including mental health and wellness programming. Adult mentors and volunteers provide the support for teens to create, innovate and explore their passions in areas like robotics, photography, and music production.“The education, training and hands-on access at the Best Buy Teen Tech Centers prepares teens for tech-reliant careers of the future,” said Andrea Wood, Head of Social Impact at Best Buy. “This is a collective effort. We’re honored to collaborate with committed partners like the Annenberg Foundation and VSEDC to build brighter futures for young people in South LA through tech.”The Grand Opening celebration for the South LA Teen Tech Center is slated for the afternoon of June 2nd, when community members, civic and education leaders, and partners will gather to formally launch the space.
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