A teen tech center opening in South Los Angeles next month will provide youth with access to the latest tools to help them explore music and vocal production, digital media, robotics, virtual reality, 3D printing and more.

Set to open on June 2, the South LA Best Buy Teen Tech Center is a 2,000-square-foot space hosted by the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC), and is part of an effort by Best Buy, the Annenberg Foundation and the Greater LA Education Foundation to address the digital divide in the community.

The center will be the third to open in Los Angeles, and the group hopes to eventually open 12 such facilities across Los Angeles County by 2023.

Officials say recent census data estimate that 6.4 percent of households in Los Angeles County do not have a computer, and 13 percent lack access to broadband internet. These households are disproportionately located in Black and Latino communities.

Los Angeles city officials say Black and Latino households are only one-third as likely as White households to have internet access.

“This is next level impact making,” VSEDC President and CEO Joseph Rouzan III said. He added that the new center “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.”

The project began more than three years ago. VSEDC and Annenberg completed an extensive renovation of the building, adding an event space, a new ADA-accessible entrance on Western Avenue and a specially commissioned mural for the facade by South LA artist Mike Norice.

The South LA center will provide a new physical home for the extensive virtual programming offered by VSEDC during the coronavirus pandemic. A grand opening ceremony is planned for June 2, and hundreds of students from local schools will participate in workshops co-hosted with 1500 Sound Academy in May and June as part of a “soft opening.”

“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.”

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