Best Buy Plans to Open Teen Tech Centers, 1 in Mpls.

Best Buy is looking to roll out a new Teen Tech Center program this year in Minneapolis, Chicago, and Miami, and it's seeking local partners to support the initiative.

Best Buy Company, Inc., aims to launch Best Buy Teen Tech Centers throughout the country in an effort to provide teens a safe environment in which to develop technology skills.

Richfield-based Best Buy is looking to open Teen Tech Centers in Minneapolis, Chicago, and Miami this year-but it is first seeking local organizations to house and support the centers, according to a request for proposals (RFP) recently issued by the company.

Best Buy's RFP states that possible partners could include public schools, libraries, community centers, or public sector entities that have existing after-school programs. Host organizations must be able to provide 1,100 square feet of space for the center, and they must commit to hosting it for at least three years.

The new centers are meant to provide a place for teenagers to develop projects based on their own interests. Projects could include creating art, animation, or music; designing science simulations; developing mobile applications; writing and illustrating films; building robotics; and designing interactive games, according to Best Buy.

“In the process, youth will become excited about learning and fluent with new technologies, developing skills and experiences to help them succeed in their careers, contribute to their communities, and lead outstanding lives,” Best Buy said.

The centers will offer “cutting-edge” technology, including computers, digital cameras, movie cameras, and professional software for filmmaking, audio production, graphic design, and computer programming, among other activities, the company said.

According to its RFP, Best Buy will provide both cash and in-kind assistance to support start-up costs, as well as staffing, during the first year of operation. That includes $100,000 in cash; hardware, software, and accessories; support for design and layout; technical assistance; and “teen-centric” furniture that will give each center a consistent look. Local Best Buy employees will also volunteer at the new centers, providing general guidance and curriculum instruction.

After the first year, the host organizations will be responsible for funding ongoing operations, although they may apply for additional Best Buy assistance during the second and third years of operation, according to the RFP.

For the program, Best Buy is partnering with Intel Computer Clubhouse Network, a collaboration of Boston's Museum of Science and the MIT Media Laboratory; the organization has been providing youth programs for 20 years. Best Buy Teen Tech Centers' staff will receive one week of training at the Boston Museum of Science's flagship Computer Clubhouse.

Best Buy is Minnesota's third-largest public company, based on its revenue, which totaled $50.7 billion for the fiscal year that ended on March 3. The company recently announced a series of restructuring plans, including 400 job cuts, 50 big-box store closures, and plans to open 100 new Best Buy Mobile stores.