Best Buy’s Teen Tech Center at Minneapolis Central Library is serving underprivileged youth by providing them with hands-on access to technology.
About 300 teens are active members in the free program, Minnesota Public Radio reported . The program provides teens with computer software and equipment that they can use to learn new skills and make things. Available technology includes virtual reality headsets, a green screen and a soundproofing recording studio.
Kiara Raquel launched her natural skin care line last year. The 18-year-old uses the center’s resources to help grow her business, Venus Raquel Beauty Care, by making business cards and other marketing materials.
“This is expensive stuff that I wouldn’t have access to unless I went and bought Adobe, which is getting more and more expensive each year,” said Raquel.
The space is open Mondays through Thursdays until 8 p.m. Three staff members and the Hennepin County library system’s teen tech squad provide assistance at the center.
The center opened in 2013. It’s one of nearly a dozen centers across the U.S.
“We’re uniquely trying to equip these kids to have not just an interest in technology and learning more, but then also acquiring the skills that would make them successful,” said William Woodworth, program manager of the Best Buy Teen Tech Centers.
Access to technology is important in today’s digitally driven world, said Kari Smalkoski, a researcher in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Gender, Women and Sexuality studies.
“The digital divide really is very much a part of the achievement gap and educational disparities, because it’s really leaving a lot of kids behind when you think about the technical and technology skills and media skills that are needed for the 21st century,” she said.
Best Buy plans to add three additional teen tech centers in the state in the next few months.
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org
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