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Youth tech hub coming to George Floyd Square area

A south Minneapolis man is paying it forward, bringing a new community tech hub into the same neighborhood where he grew up.

MINNEAPOLIS — By the end of next month, several empty rooms within Sabathani Community Center will transform into a "community tech hub" for young people 12-24 years old.

The initiative comes from Smart North, a nonprofit Tayo Daniel cofounded. Daniel grew up blocks away from the south Minneapolis landmark that is Sabathani. Today, the area is also known for George Floyd Square.

Daniel says the hub will provide tech trainings and connections to tech professionals so that young people of color living nearby can gain skills and access to high salary jobs. According to Smart North, the average household income in the area is $20,000 less than the national average.

"We got a whole bunch of influence from a lot of different people in the community but the most important influence that we got was from the youth," Daniel said.

Over a series of listening sessions, the youth expressed interest in virtual reality headsets, music recording equipment, 3D printing machines, and other technology.

"There was stuff that they talked about that I hadn't even thought of like a 3D pen," Daniel said. "I wish I had something like this when I was young." 

Daniel says trainings will cover cyber security, drones, NFTs, robotics, and other topics. The hub will even include food and nutrition programming, he says.

According to Computing Technology Industry Association, Black and Hispanic people make up just 5 percent of Minnesota's tech workforce. The hub seeks to change that by helping under-served families build generational wealth.

"Not having enough funds leads to so many problems in the household so if we can start to create career pathways for the youth and show them a way that they can make a lot of money," Daniel said. "I mean, we're talking about six-figure salaries … Then they're going to go back into their community and teach the elderly how to use it. Teach business owners how to use it."

Cargill recently awarded Smart North a $250,000 grant for the tech hub. An additional $500,000 is needed to pay for equipment and employ teachers. Donations can be made online.

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