As it looks to boost the next generation's interest and skills in technology, Best Buy is increasing its number of teen tech centers fivefold over the next three years.
The Richfield-based retailer announced today that it will grow the year-round after-school programs from 11 sites currently to more than 60 across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The expansion represents an extra $30 million investment from the company by 2020.
First launched in 2012, Best Buy's teen tech centers are focused on serving under-served youth. They provide free programming that includes hands-on access to the latest technology in everything from robotics to 3-D printing. Other subject areas include coding, filmmaking, music production and design.
The expansion includes four previously announced new sites that will be open in the Twin Cities in coming weeks, in addition to its existing location at the Minneapolis Central Library. The new locations are at the Brian Coyle Center and Hope Community in Minneapolis as well as at Keystone Community Services and the YMCA in St. Paul.
The ramp up of the program comes as Best Buy says there's an increasing shortage of workers with tech skills.
"Our next generation faces a future that puts them squarely in the middle of a technology revolution, yet millions of these young people aren't getting the support they deserve to amke the most of their potential," Laura Bishop, Best Buy's chief corporate responsibility officer, said in a statement.
Because of this expanded committment, Best Buy says it will be able to reach one million young people a year through these centers by 2020.
In addition, the company said it is launching a new post-high school career readiness program that includes internship opportunities and mentorship. It will serve 2,000 students a year.
Best Buy also runs the Geek Squad Academy, summer camps for youth at about 40 locations around the country.