Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation partnered with Best Buy, the Annenberg Foundation, and Greater LA Education Foundation to create a center that has a computer lab and recording studio.
By Jason Lewis
South Los Angeles has a brand new state-of-the-art tech center at the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC). The South L.A. Best Buy Teen Tech Center gives children ages 10-18 years old access to computers, tablets, a music studio, robotics, virtual reality equipment, 3D printing, and more.
“We’re decreasing the digital divide and making a difference in this community,” said Thai Buckman, VSEDC program coordinator.
At this center the children will learn coding, website development, digital content creation, and financial literacy. The tablets will teach the students graphic design and art. The music studio has a soundproof vocal booth and a digital control room that has the same equipment that can be found in high-end music studios.
As part of the LA Community Impact Hub, this launch is a crucial step in an ongoing effort by Best Buy, the Annenberg Foundation, and Greater LA Education Foundation to address the digital divide in the community. Recent census data estimates that 6.4 percent of households in Los Angeles County do not have a computer, and 13 percent lack access to broadband internet. These households are disproportionately located in underserved Black and Latino communities. According to the City of Los Angeles, Black and Latino households are only one-third as likely as White households to have internet access.
"The education, training and hands-on access at the Best Buy Teen Tech Centers prepares teens for tech-reliant careers of the future," said Andrea Wood, head of Social Impact at Best Buy. "This is a collective effort. We're honored to collaborate with committed partners like the Annenberg Foundation and VSEDC to build brighter futures for young people in South L.A. through tech."
Many students in South Los Angeles and surrounding areas do not have access to this type of equipment.
“This community doesn’t have places like this,” Buckman said. “We want to be able to train children and give them access to technology so that they can be competitive in the workforce. We want to expose them to different pathways.”
This tech center will improve a student’s chances of making it to college, and it will also help students who will choose to enter the workforce after high school.
“We do college to career, but we also do entrepreneurship,” Buckman said. “So that the youth who do not go to college can also utilize their skills to become successful.”
Los Angeles is one of the largest technology hubs in the world, and there is a lot of untapped talent in this area that simply does not have equal opportunity or access to the tools to excel in the technology fields.
“We all understand that places like this power the next great idea in tech,” said Cinny Kennard, Executive Director of the Annenberg Foundation. “Can you imagine the next TikTok coming out of this building or even better yet an engineering method that makes technology more accessible?”
The VSEDC is located at 6109 S. Western Avenue. For more information contact the VSEDC at (323) 753-2335. Visit their website at www.vsedc.org.