April 30, 2020
Jessica MoesStaff Writer
Best Buy is committed to helping teens from disinvested communities build brighter futures, and that has only become more important during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s why we’re continuing to ensure teens and the organizations that serve them have access to the technology, training and mentorship they need to learn and grow. We’re doing that by donating millions of dollars in funding for local nonprofits and providing teens with the tech they need to stay connected during this time.
“Now, more than ever, we’re seeing technology is essential for helping young people learn and stay connected,” said Andrea Wood, Best Buy’s head of social impact. “This pandemic has underscored the pronounced disparity between those who have access to the tech tools and training required to excel in school and in life, and those who don’t. We want to ensure all teens have an opportunity to pursue their dreams.”
While the transition to online education is an adjustment for everyone, it’s more difficult for some than others. A 2019 analysis by the Associated Press showed that 17% of students nationwide lack a computer at home and 18% lack broadband internet access. This “digital divide,” as it’s known, has become more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic with schools closed and students tasked with completing their class work online.
We typically address those concerns through our Teen Tech Centers, safe, after-school learning spaces where youth can learn new tech skills, stay on track with school, gain exposure to new career possibilities and benefit from positive adult and peer relationships. But most of our 35 centers across the country are closed for safety reasons right now, so we’re finding new ways to help.
Staying focused on tech education, access
After talking with community organizations to understand their most pressing needs, the Best Buy Foundation is providing almost $10 million in funding to current nonprofit partners in Minnesota and around the country.
A portion of that funding will provide 2,500 teens from Best Buy Teen Tech Centers with internet hotspots for their homes to support distance learning. Additionally, we are working with vendor partners like Microsoft and electronics recycler ERI to provide laptops and tablets to hundreds of teens and families from the Teen Tech Center network who don’t have them.
Some of that funding also is being allocated to the nonprofits that host our Teen Tech Centers. They can use the money for general operating expenses that might help them keep the lights on or support programs that address local community needs.
In partnership with software company Adobe, we’re ensuring teens from our Teen Tech Centers can continue to create and innovate at home. Adobe’s generous donation of 2,500 Creative Cloud licenses provides access to professional tools like Photoshop and music and video production resources.
Best Buy has also donated its Total Tech Support services to each nonprofit partner, ensuring that Teen Tech Center staff can easily troubleshoot their way through staying connected to teens from a distance as they adapt to new virtual learning models and transition to digital mentors.
Putting local community needs first
Best Buy has also partnered with two Minnesota organizations to provide Chromebooks and laptops to teens in need to help ensure they can continue their studies at home.
Thanks to a $75,000 donation from Best Buy, the Northside Achievement Zone was able to purchase 250 Chromebooks for families who attend North Minneapolis schools and don’t otherwise have access to computing devices.
Additionally, we provided the Page Education Foundation with a $25,000 matching grant through which the foundation was able to purchase 186 laptops for its scholars across the state of Minnesota.
We’re also helping organizations across the country. In Los Angeles, Best Buy provided a $25,000 grant to the Los Angeles County Office of Education to provide technical support for teachers working in the new distance-learning model. We’ve focused our nationwide Community Grants program on providing general operating support to youth-serving nonprofit partners in all of our markets.
Moving forward, we will continue to leverage Best Buy’s assets, resources and expertise to help our communities not only survive this pandemic but also come out it stronger and ready to thrive.
Click here to learn more about Best Buy’s various social impact programs.