NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — February 22, 2021 — Dr. Chris Jones, Executive Director of Winrock International’s Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, announced today that the Innovation Hub is partnering with Best Buy to create the first Best Buy Teen Tech Center in Arkansas — a place where Arkansas teens can develop critical skills through hands-on activities that explore their interests in technology, art and entrepreneurial subjects.
Best Buy will provide programmatic support to enhance the Innovation Hub’s technology access and education outreach to teens — especially local, underserved populations. The Hub will provide space, equipment, facilities, staff and management of the center at its North Little Rock location. The goal is skill-building in technology and innovation to motivate and better prepare teens for the career paths of the future.
The development of the center launches today with a combination of creative learning opportunities. Construction to remodel portions of the Innovation Hub’s 22,000-square-foot facility will start later this year. The Teen Tech Center is expected to be fully operational in 2022 adding new studio spaces for audiovisual production and more.
“We have facilities, studios and cutting-edge equipment,” said Hannah May, Education Lead at the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub. “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 partnership with Best Buy will enhance the Innovation Hub’s current programs, enabling them to reach more students, including those who may not have had access before.
“We share Best Buy’s goal of reaching out to disinvested communities, a goal that has been part of our organization’s DNA from the very start,” said Jones. “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 for teens and our communities.”
The support provided by Best Buy includes membership in The Clubhouse Network. A collaborative project with the MIT Media Lab, the network is an international community of clubhouses in 20 countries, providing youth with hands-on learning opportunities aimed at inspiring them to pursue higher education and explore potential careers in science and technology. Teens will be able to learn: