In partnership with Best Buy, Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub will be creating the first Best Buy Teen Tech Center in Arkansas. This center will be designed to help teenagers develop interests in technology, art and entrepreneurship and gain skills through hands-on activities.
Through this partnership, Best Buy will provide support to increase the Innovation Hub’s technology access and educational outreach with a focus on local underserved populations. Meanwhile, the Innovation Hub will provide the space, equipment, facilities, staff and management for the Teen Tech Center at its headquarters in North Little Rock.
Best Buy will also provide the Innovation Hub with membership to The Clubhouse Network, an international collaborative project with the MIT Media Lab that provides teenagers with hands-on learning in subjects including music production, audio editing, fine art, graphic design, photography, video editing, coding, robotics, mobile application development, animation, 3D object design, ceramics and digital fabrication. This partnership will also help the Innovation Hub enhance its existing educational programs.
“We have facilities, studios, and cutting-edge equipment,” Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub education lead Hannah May said in a statement. “More importantly though, we are a core team of creative educators who are proficient in our own specialties—from ceramics and screen-printing to state-of-the-art technologies like 3D printing and digital fabrication. We encourage and motivate students to learn new skills and to use them toward practical businesses and career paths.”
The Innovation Hub is launching the development of the Best Buy Teen Tech Center immediately. In addition, there are plans to renovate portions of the Innovation’s 22,000-square-foot facility to add new studio spaces for audio visual production and more.
These renovations are expected to begin later in 2021 with the Teen Tech Center projected to be operational in 2022.
In December 2020, Best Buy announced that it planned to impact 30,000 teenagers every year from “disinvest communities” in the United States as part of its five-year plan to create more opportunities for youth and address underrepresentation. Building a network of approximately 100 Teen Tech Centers was part of the strategy for reaching this goal.
“We share Best Buy’s goal of reaching out to disinvested communities, a goal that has been part of our organization DNA from the very start,” Innovation Hub executive director Dr. Chris Jones said. “It’s an honor to be Arkansas’s first Teen Tech Center. This partnership with Best Buy and the MIT Media Lab will be transformative to teens and our communities.”
According to Best Buy’s corporate website, there are currently 35 Teen Tech Centers. The centers are located in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin. There are also centers in Washington, D.C. and Vancouver, Canada.
There are more Teen Tech Centers planned, including one in Memphis, Tenn.