Starting in early 2020, hundreds of South Los Angeles teens will start getting hands-on experience with tech — including digital media, robotics, virtual reality, and 3D printing — at the new Best Buy Teen Tech Center at the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC) Business Enterprise Center.
This groundbreaking project grows out of the partnership between the Annenberg Foundation, whose AnnenbergTech initiative provides access to tech opportunities for all Angelenos; VSEDC, a longtime community-based nonprofit focused on financial advocacy for marginalized communities in South Los Angeles; and Best Buy, whose goal is to establish more than 60 Best Buy Teen Tech Centers across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico by 2020. The Annenberg Foundation will provide funds to refurbish the interior of the VSEDC building to help create a new, 21st century tech center. Best Buy will provide the state-of-the-art computers, photography and filmmaking equipment and 3D printers, and more.
The Best Buy Teen Tech Center will offer a free, interactive learning space to help prepare neighborhood youth for a tech-reliant future. Teens will learn crucial tech skills, explore their passions and discover how technology can benefit them in school and future careers. In a collaborative environment with their peers and with the guidance of adult mentors, the space will provide state-of-the art technology, allowing teens to explore everything from robotics and 3D design to music and film production, virtual and augmented reality creation, and more.
The new Teen Tech Center — to be located at 6109 South Western Avenue in Los Angeles – is AnnenbergTech’s first phase in creating a place-based hub for the work of its initiative PledgeLA, a coalition of venture capital (VC) and tech industry leaders seeking to usher the Los Angeles tech industry into a new dawn of equity, inclusion, and community engagement. One of its many goals is to create a new and vibrant tech corridor in South Los Angeles.
According to a policy brief published in July 2017 by the Annenberg Research Network on International Communication, children living in South Los Angeles are 26 percent less likely to have access to high-speed internet at home than their peers around the county. This disparity is one of many factors making it difficult for South LA’s young people to explore and learn about tech. Yet, the Los Angeles tech ecosystem is booming and providing thousands of jobs to those with the necessary training and skills. The Best Buy Teen Tech Center will help bridge that gap by providing opportunities for South LA teens to learn 21stcentury skills that translate into successful careers in the tech world.
“Through this kind of cross-sector collaboration between the tech industry and community leaders, the Annenberg Foundation’s AnnenbergTech initiative has been providing underserved communities with access into LA’s burgeoning tech sector,” said Cinny Kennard, the Foundation’s Executive Director. “The education and activities at the Best Buy Teen Tech Center could ignite a passion in a young person who may not have had access to tech before, but who, in just a few years down the road, might very well generate an ingenious idea that could change everything for themselves, their community, and the rest of the world.”
“We are absolutely thrilled to partner with the Annenberg Foundation to bring access and opportunities to communities that need support the most,” said Joseph T. Rouzan III, President and CEO of VSEDC. “Thanks to their support, hundreds of youth will explore tech fundamentals, thereby increasing their chances of entering the workforce and achieving self-sufficiency.”
“It’s never been more important for young people to have hands-on access to the technology, training, and education needed to prepare for the tech-reliant careers of the future,” said Andrea Wood, Head of Social Impact at Best Buy. “We truly value the Annenberg Foundation and VSEDC’s commitment to ensuring every young person in South Los Angeles has the chance to not only discover their dreams, but to pursue them.”
ABOUT THE ANNENBERG FOUNDATION
The Annenberg Foundation is a family foundation that provides funding and support to nonprofit organizations in the United States and globally. Since 1989, it has generously funded programs in education and youth development; arts, culture and humanities; civic and community life; health and human services; and animal services and the environment. To learn more about the Annenberg Foundation and their various initiatives, click here.
VSEDC has facilitated community development of the South Los Angeles area for more than three decades by providing programs that revitalize the physical, economic, and social life of the community. A newly-designated Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), VSEDC has developed and implemented a comprehensive approach to community economic development that includes business development, technical assistance and training, residential housing, commercial, and industrial development.
ABOUT BEST BUY SOCIAL IMPACT
Best Buy Co., Inc.’s purpose is to enrich lives through technology. Best Buy Teen Tech Centers provide teens from under-resourced communities with technology, training, and mentorship in an inspirational environment that facilitates post-secondary education and career opportunities. By the end of 2020, more than 60 Best Buy Teen Tech Centers across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico will enable thousands of teens annually to explore their interests in music and film production, coding, digital design, robotics, and augmented and virtual reality. Together with a coalition of nonprofit organizations, companies and philanthropies, Teen Tech Centers are building brighter futures through technology.