Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Best Buy and the Clubhouse Network unveiled a new Teen Tech Center Wednesday afternoon at the Mary Ryan Club, 3000 N. Sherman Blvd., in Sherman Park, with Mayor Tom Barrett and others in attendance.
The center offers teenagers access to state of the art technology, including new computers, a recording studio, a 3-D printer, a green screen, creative software platforms like Adobe Suite, a T-shirt press and more that can help them explore digital media, virtual reality, robotics and more.
"This new space is going to be an incredible asset to the teens we serve both in our club and in the community," said Devon Reid, Mary Ryan Boys & Girls Club manager.
"We know not all of our members are athletes, or artists, but we know all of them are incredibly familiar with technology, and this teen tech center will give them a leg up on tech focused careers."
The center is one of 60 that Best Buy hopes to have up and running in North America by next year in collaboration with the Massachusetts-based Clubhouse Network, which runs more than 100 clubhouses in 18 countries with a mission, it says, "to provide a create and safe out-of-school learning environment where young people from underserved communities work with adult mentors to explore their own ideas, develop new skills, and build confidence in themselves through the use of technology."
Best Buy projects that those centers will provide access to technology to nearly 20,000 teenagers.
"I was a club member here at Mary Ryan at the age of 6, and I could only imagine having these opportunities back then," Teen Tech Center Coordinator Donte Daughtry said." It’s an honor to now be able to give back to the kids and allow them a platform to express themselves through technology with the support of Best Buy."
The Clubhouse Network and Best Buy have been collaborating on the labs since 2012 and, currently, there are centers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and Washington, D.C.
The goal is to open 19 clubs in 2019. Last month, clubs opened in Houston and St. Louis. The Sherman Park location is the first in Wisconsin.
"Best Buy Teen Tech Centers address the nation’s opportunity gap by offering teens free, year-round, hands-on technology access and education in an after-school setting," reads a statement from the electronics retailing giant.
"Over the next decade, 77 percent (1.4 million) of all U.S. jobs will require tech skills. To help set up future generations for success, Best Buy is working with local non- profit partners to provide essential access to technology, training and mentorship, particularly for low-income youth from underserved communities. BGCGM provides services to nearly 15,000 teens annually."
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee provides services to nearly 15,000 teenagers each year in its 44 locations across the city, including meals, tutoring, mentoring and more.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.