Teen Tech Center bridging the tech divide

“I am excited to see all the possibilities and different career paths that our children would not even think existed.” These are the words of Hope Community’s executive director, Shannon Smith Jones, talking about the potential of the New Best Buy Teen Tech Center that opened in January at Hope Community.

Technology is the way of operating optimally in this world. From phones to computers, to computerized cars, we cannot escape the firm grip of the technical world. With stores located across the country, Best Buy has been working diligently to integrate more community-related programming.

Teen tech students at work Photo courtesy of Best Buy

Andrew “Dhop” Hopkins, director of Family and Community Engagement at Hope Community, explained why the Teen Tech Center is so important for our children. “We start recognizing that technology is becoming another divide. Our kids use technology for fun and games, which is cool, but we are trying to get our kids to start looking back at the rich history of our people.

We were always producers. Now we are basically consumers. We don’t [usually] build anything anymore. We don’t invent anything anymore.”

Continuing, Hopkins said, “I used to love when [Black History Month] rolled around. That [was] when we had the space to celebrate the great things we as a people invented by our great scientists. Part of my thing is, how do we get our young people turned around. They have to know that the bar is high, and we have to do some work.

“At the end, they will be able to see themselves as their own change agents in their communities. They can see themselves going into jobs that break cycles of poverty. They can see themselves participating in this global world now. We are not just local now. Technology is making things closer. We are using certification models, because all students may not go to college. But, they can be prepared to work in a technical field.”

“The Phillips Community is a very diverse community, said Jones. “It almost looks like a pie-chart, if you were to divide it up into the different folks living in the community. Many of those people are people of color. We know there is a technology divide with our kids.

“One thing I wish I could do was bottle up the energy that was at the grand opening of the Teen Tech Center. It was community coming together. Not just the Phillips Community, but the community at large — funders, community members, youth leaders. People were talking to people that they may not always talk to.”

According to the Hope Community website, the “Teen Tech Center will house state-of-the-art technology, engaging teens aged 13–18 in leveraging technology for learning, creativity, and career-path development.”

Teens can challenge themselves in several different areas of technology including:

  • graphic design
  • sound and video production
  • digital photography
  • filmmaking
  • scratch visual programming
  • coding and much more!

The Best Buy Teen Tech Center in Hope Community, 611 East Franklin, will be a safe, interactive space for teens to explore the latest technology and multimedia tools with support from peers and adult mentors. The center’s hours are 3-7 pm. Tuesdays through Thursdays and 9 am – 5 pm on Saturdays.

For more information see www.hope-community.org.


Brandi Phillips welcomes reader responses to bphillips@spokesman-recorder.com