Twin Cities Welcome New Teen Tech Center at CLUES in St. Paul

Categorized: News, Photos

Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio Partners with The Clubhouse Network and Best Buy to Open Center

St. Paul, MN—We recently welcomed our newest partner to The Clubhouse Network. On November 8, The Best Buy Teen Tech Center at Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES) in St. Paul held its grand opening. As a member of The Clubhouse Network, this center joins our international community of more than 100 Clubhouses located in 19 countries, providing youth with life-changing opportunities for 25 years. This site is the third in St. Paul and sixth in Minnesota, home to Best Buy’s corporate offices.

CLUES President Ruby Azurdia-Lee emceed the grand opening and welcomed youth, parents, mentors, elected officials, and other community members. “This is such a dream, made a reality for us.” She noted that 40% of all Latinos in Minnesota are under the age of 20 and that investing in youth is a priority for CLUES. “As we all talk about addressing inequities and closing the disparity gap, this is what we—in partnership with Best Buy—are doing. We’re not just talking, we’re walking the walk.”

“This is such a dream, made a reality for us.”

CLUES, host to this Center, is a linguistically and culturally relevant resource and service nonprofit organization that was founded in 1981 by Latinos for Latinos. Their programs and services connect individuals and families to resources, skills, institutions, and systems and create an environment for people to be engaged and empowered. The Teen Tech Center was a part of its 2019 building expansion. 19,000 square feet of space were added to its headquarters, more than doubling its capacity.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter noted the significant role the Center will play in local workforce development. He said, “Anything you want to do in your life requires an ability to navigate and utilize technology.” With regard to youth empowerment, he said, “this is about making sure our young people have access to adult mentors and role models […] people who care enough about them to invest in them.”

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter shares remarks as CLUES President Ruby Azurdia-Lee looks on.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter shares remarks as CLUES President Ruby Azurdia-Lee looks on.

Senator Tina Smith was present to share congratulations and encouragement. During her remarks, she addressed youth directly saying, “You’re going to come up with new ways of solving problems, new ways of helping people’s lives be better. It’s going to start all of this community but in this building.”

Like other Clubhouses and Teen Tech Centers, this new space offers teens access to technology for programming, film making, music production, graphic design, and more, with the support of adult staff and mentors who serve as role models.

“When we feed our creativity, we become empowered, and we become active citizens.”

Ricardo Bennett-Guzmán, CLUES Latino Youth Enrichment Program Manager and an accomplished artist and filmmaker, spoke passionately about working with St. Paul’s youth saying, “When we feed our creativity, we become empowered, and we become active citizens.” He expressed his gratitude noting that “With the help of our partners like Best Buy and The Clubhouse Network, we’re advancing at high speeds in bringing state of the art tools that our youth can access at any time at no cost to help bridge some of the gaps that our communities face.”

A Best Buy employee and a youth illustrate using a tablet
A Best Buy employee and a youth illustrate using a tablet

Francisca Railef, 16, is a current member and shared her experience in the center producing films. “I learned a lot about myself and my culture, a lot of techniques for filming, and skills I can use in my everyday life.” She is already working on her next documentary

Francisca later gave a moving performance alongside her peer Irene.

“It’s an honor to welcome Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio to The Clubhouse Network,” said Gail Breslow, Executive Director of The Clubhouse Network. “I’m thrilled to be working with such a strong local community organization in partnership with Best Buy to establish a warm and welcoming learning space for teens to express themselves creatively in St. Paul.”

Across the country, many communities lack support and access to the tools and experiences that can unlock a better future and prepare teens for the challenges ahead. Since 2012, Best Buy has partnered with The Clubhouse Network to bring Best Buy Teen Tech Centers to 30 different U.S. cities, with a plan to launch 60 by 2020. As members of The Clubhouse Network, Teen Tech Centers embrace The Network’s mission and learning model.

Get involved by becoming a mentor, a sponsor, or by supporting the Network.

See More Photos from the Grand Opening