Best Buy is expanding an after-school tech program for underprivileged teens as it hopes to create workers with the skills to serve increasingly savvy shoppers as well as groom future inventors who can help fill its stores with new gadgets.
The Minneapolis-based chain said Wednesday the number of tech centers will grow to 60 from 11 over the next three years. The centers, hosted by nonprofit organizations with strong financial support from Best Buy, let teens explore technology such as robotics and 3-D printing.
"It's not about getting them into the store but getting the next thing in the store," said Laura Bishop, Best Buy's chief corporate responsibility officer. Best Buy started its first tech center four years ago and works with suppliers like Sony as well as educators and public officials.
The company is also creating post-high school mentorship programs that will serve 2,000 students per year in poorer neighborhoods. That training will include internship opportunities at local businesses. And Best Buy will expand its Geek Squad Academy summer camps for youths aged 10 to 18, which number around 40. The camps feature classes in areas like 3-D design, digital music production, and coding.
The company says it will invest $30 million in the programs over the next three years.