The executive director of the Martin Luther King Community Center in Indianapolis says a new tech center is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Officials Tuesday celebrated the grand opening of the Best Buy Teen Tech Center, which aims to prepare teenagers for careers through hands-on experience with tech, including digital media, robotics and virtual reality. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Allison Luthe said the center, located in the Butler Tarkington neighborhood, creates a major benefit for area youth.
"They want activity. They want things to do. They want to be a part of something and so this is just an amazing opportunity that they can’t get anywhere but that they also deserve," said Luthe. "Technology jobs are coming to Indianapolis and so we have a goal of preparing youth for those jobs but also increasing the number of people of color that are in the technology field. So, connecting them when they are teenagers will help increase that five-to-ten years from now."
The center was established with a 50-percent match from the MLK Center, which was provided from local supporters such as Meridian Street United Methodist Church, Citizens Energy Group, Davis & Associates Inc., and Energy Harness, as well as a donation from Indianapolis-based Klipsch.
The MLK Center says, in addition to providing services for current students, young people ages 17 to 24 who have a high school degree are also eligible for apprenticeship programs. The Teen Tech Center is also looking for mentors and volunteers.
Luthe says she hopes the center will create a cyclical effect. "I hope that we are exposing these teens to technology and then they are running this space. So, the teenagers who are 17, 18, 19 can be showing all of the younger children this technology earlier and earlier and earlier in their life so that they can be prepared to pick any career path that they want."