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A Place to Explore

Teen Tech Centers give students hands-on access to a range of technology.

High school senior Jennifer Castro already loved the New Orleans Public Library, but she loves it even more now that there’s a Best Buy Teen Tech Center on the second floor. The center provides teens with free access to a wide range of technology, including computers, digital cameras, virtual reality systems and coding software. There’s even a 3-D printer and a music studio.

“I will definitely be using the space to further develop a graphic design portfolio, which is what I want to do once I’m off to college soon,” Jennifer said at the center’s grand opening in June. “I would also like to learn how to code during my free time.”

Teen Tech Centers are designed to be safe, comfortable and fun places where teens can develop critical tech skills through hands-on activities. The program, which launched in 2012, works to address the opportunity gap by giving youth access to tech education, relationships that help build confidence and a foundation for school and career success.

“They’re the opposite of a classroom,” said Will Woodworth, an associate manager for community relations at Best Buy. “It’s all driven by the youth who attend based on their own desire to do so. They vote with their feet as far as coming in the door any day they choose.”

The New Orleans location is our 17th in the U.S., and we plan to add four more across the nation by September. By 2020, we’ll have 60 Teen Tech Centers operated by nonprofit partners in cities across the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

The average Teen Tech Center serves about 300 individual teens per year, with 30 to 40 students visiting each week. Some get so excited by the technology and the creative atmosphere that they visit every day after school.

“Imagine having unrestricted access to Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, so you can sketch a design on a digital drawing pad and then cut it out on a vinyl cutter to put it on a jacket,” Will said. “For many of these teens, those kinds of things are not even close to imaginable, much less possible.”

Best Buy is helping teens develop tech skills for the careers of the future. Watch inspiring videos and help us share some of their stories.