At the Newly Opened Teen Tech Center at Crown Heights Library (Left to Right): Ellen West, VP of investor relations and Google NY site lead, Maria Torres-Springer, New York City's Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development, BPL President and CEO Linda Johnson, a teen attending BPL teen programs, NYPL President and CEO Tony Marx, QPL President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott, Ashley Rajaratnam, Director of Social Impact at Best Buy, and William Floyd, Director of External Affairs at Google New York
Mayor Adams, New York City’s Libraries Partner With Google.org, Best Buy, Joly Family Foundation To Provide Nearly $20 Million In Funding To Support Teens And Young Adults Disproportionately Impacted By Pandemic
October 12, 2022
Partnership Features Major Expansion of Teen Centers at Brooklyn, New York, and Queens Libraries, Enhanced Library Services, Programs for Teens
Funding Will Help Provide Access to State-of-the-Art Technology, Academic Enrichment, Social and Emotional Support Services
NYC Kicking in $15 Million, $4.5 Million More from Google.org, Best Buy Foundation, Joly Family Foundation
NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and Queens Public Library today announced a partnership with Google.org, the Best Buy Foundation, and the Joly Family Foundation that will allocate approximately $20 million towards opening dedicated teen spaces at the three facilities to provide vital resources and services in an inclusive and engaging environment for New York City youth. After navigating the COVID-19 global pandemic and an extended period of isolation, New York City teens are poised to receive substantial support from the city’s public libraries, which are building on recent efforts to enhance teen services thanks to a major new public-private partnership designed to help young adults create opportunities for future success. The libraries will have programming and enhanced learning opportunities to support skills and career development, allowing young adults to actively use their local library to reestablish peer communities and advocate for their future. As part of this announcement, more than 30 teen centers are opening throughout the five boroughs.
"After two years of isolation during the pandemic, our young people deserve a boost and today's announcement is just one of many of this administration's ongoing commitment to New York City youth. The teen centers offer young people a space where they can connect with each other in person, learn new technical skills and how to collaborate better, and receive social and emotional support,” said Mayor Adams. "By investing approximately $20 million in new funds in these teen centers, we are connecting our young people with extraordinary programs in technology to discover new passions and prepare themselves for future careers. This is public-private partnership at its best, and will provide our city’s youth with the best we have to offer.”
“Now, more than ever, teens in New York City need safe, dynamic spaces where they can find inspiration, explore new interests, sharpen their digital and tech fluency, and learn about post-secondary opportunities,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with the Brooklyn, New York, and Queens Public Libraries, Google, and Best Buy to invest nearly $20 million in additional funding for teen spaces and programming in so many vibrant communities across our city.”
“We are thrilled to be able to provide teens with safe spaces where they can connect with friends and neighbors, learn the skills they need to be productive and engaged citizens, and discover through our programs and books who they might become," said Linda E. Johnson, president and CEO, Brooklyn Public Library. “We are grateful to Mayor Adams, Google.org, and the Best Buy Foundation for their generous and enthusiastic support of teen programs in libraries across the city.”
“As a free and inclusive resource for all New York City students, it is vital libraries create new opportunities to engage with teens and offer greater access to tools that will help them develop critical skills for their education and success later in life,” said Anthony W. Marx, president, The New York Public Library. “Technology has a profound importance in the lives of teens, providing them with opportunities to learn, communicate, and express their individuality. With the generous support of our partners — Mayor Adams, Google.org, the Best Buy Foundation and the Joly Family Foundation — these new centers will introduce teens not only to the vast resources of The New York Public Library, but to ever-evolving technology in creative and welcoming spaces that encourage collaboration with their peers and provide extensive resources and services for their growth.”
“The pandemic has been particularly tough on teens, many of whom have lost ground academically, found their support networks disrupted, and faced unprecedented mental health challenges,” said Dennis M. Walcott, president and CEO, Queens Public Library. “This funding will enable us to provide more teens with safe, inclusive, and inspiring spaces and critical supports to master digital skills, unleash their creativity, develop new interests, connect with peers and caring adults, and discover opportunities for college and career success. From the beginning of his administration, Mayor Adams has made clear that libraries are essential to our communities, and we are grateful to him, his administration, and Google for investing in the promise of teens — and of libraries – to help fuel the recovery of our city.”
With the Adams administration’s investment of $15 million, New York City’s libraries will develop new or updated teen centers in underserved communities throughout the five boroughs. The funding will also be used to support the hiring of additional staff, as well as create jobs for teens at each system. Branches throughout the city will also offer holistic support for teens with enhanced programs. Today’s announcement is part of the city’s overall strategy to keep the city’s youth engaged and active, expanding opportunities that empower teens and help them find the right path for success.
In addition to the city’s investment, Google.org, the Best Buy Foundation, and the Joly Family Foundation will expand vital support for teens with additional dedicated centers and enhanced services that will allow young adults to build strong foundations to succeed both in school and later in life. The partnership with Google is part of the company's NYC Tech Opportunity Fund, and its $4 million investment in local computer science education previously announced last month. That investment will include a $1.5 million grant to fund the opening and expansion of six teen centers, which will play a considerable role in providing resources focused on digital literacy and technology skills. The centers are located in each of the five boroughs at the following library branches:
- Bronx: Woodstock Library and Wakefield Library
- Brooklyn: Crown Heights Library
- Manhattan: Countee Cullen Library (scheduled to open in early 2023)
- Queens: Far Rockaway Library
- Staten Island: West New Brighton Library
The Best Buy Foundation and the Joly Family Foundation committed to opening five Best Buy Teen Tech Centers in public libraries, with one opening this spring at the Grand Concourse Library in the Bronx and expanding to four more sites in the next couple of years. Their initial commitment will be upwards of $3 million through 2025, and will be funded by grants, technology donations, and innovative partnerships that provide career and post-secondary opportunities to teen participants. Best Buy Teen Tech Centers aim to advance tech equity for young people in underserved communities, connecting them with mentorship, training opportunities, and post-secondary and career resources to ensure they thrive in the future. The new sites join a location at Kings Highway Library in Brooklyn that opened in 2019.
As CEO of Best Buy, Hubert Joly, founder of the Joly Family Foundation, oversaw the creation of the Best Buy Teen Tech Center program. There are now over 50 Teen Tech Centers nationwide, with a goal to open 100 by 2025 to reach tens of thousands of teens from disinvested communities across the country. Each Best Buy Teen Tech Center provides access to a variety of resources, such as access to cutting-edge technology, including tools for film production, augmented and virtual reality, digital media, 3-D design, and audio engineering.
“The Best Buy Teen Tech Centers are there to serve New York City’s teens,” said Hubert Joly, former chairman and CEO, Best Buy, and trustee, The New York Public Library. “I’m proud that this partnership gives them the opportunity to channel their talent, energy, and ideas into brighter futures.”
“Google.org is proud to support the New York, Brooklyn, and Queens libraries to open teen tech centers that will give young New Yorkers access to training, guidance, and resources, creating opportunities for them to participate in the tech economy of the future,” said Ellen West, VP of investor relations and Google NY site lead, Google. “We are grateful for the partnership with the libraries, the Mayor’s Office, and the Best Buy Foundation on this important initiative.”
“Since long before the pandemic, our city’s teenagers have needed partnerships like this — that creates spaces for community, supports them in and out of school, and empowers them to build a future around what motivates and fulfills them,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “In no time, we will see the benefits of these programs in the transformation of New York’s youth and the better city they will in turn build. We are so fortunate that Brooklyn will be home to these teen centers, and I thank Mayor Adams, our public libraries, and our private and philanthropic partners who have made it all possible.”
"The past two and a half years have been especially devastating for teens across the city, so this new investment couldn’t come at a better time,” said Jonathan Bowles, executive director, Center for an Urban Future. “It will help thousands of teens get back on track to futures full of possibility, and it’s a wonderful recognition of the vital role that New York’s branch libraries play in ensuring an inclusive and equitable recovery."
“For decades libraries have been the central space for young people to engage and connect with literature and one another,” said Dr. Meisha Porter, former DOE Chancellor and president and CEO, The Bronx Community Foundation. “This partnership with Mayor Eric Adams, Brooklyn Public Library, The New York Public Library, and the Queens Public Library, Google.org, the Best Buy Foundation and the Joly Family Foundation will ensure that young people continue to have that dedicated space. The enhanced services offered in this space will also allow young people to have access to the digital tools and learning opportunities to ensure they have the 21st century skills needed to navigate the world.”
QPL President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott Speaks at the Funding Announcement
To advance this enhanced effort in collaboration with the Adams administration, Google.org, the Best Buy Foundation and the Joly Family Foundation, the three library systems are also implementing important initiatives and programs for their teen patrons.
Brooklyn Public Library is expanding its exceptional resources for teens with a focus on creating teen-friendly spaces at branches and bolstering its programs across the system. The new Teen Tech Center at Crown Heights Library will serve as a hub for teen technology offerings, both for the neighborhood and at Brooklyn Public Library’s boroughwide Today’s Teens, Tomorrow’s Techies (Teen Techies) program. The teen center will offer ongoing technology instruction and elective workshops — including web design, graphic design, programming languages, video game design, podcasting, and robotics. Teens will lead drop-in programs for their peers, and the center will offer opportunities for creative, project-based work. Funding for the Crown Heights Teen Tech Center was provided by Google.org — along with New York State American Rescue Plan Act funding and support from the Revson Foundation.
In addition, Crown Heights Library will serve as a pilot location for Brooklyn Public Library’s launch of Teen Takeovers — an additional component of the library’s mayoral-funded teen initiatives. Through the program, branch teen councils will plan programs for several weekend nights throughout the school year for which Brooklyn Public Library will keep the libraries open for extended hours.
Additional teen offerings will include support for the existing BKLYN Robotics program, introducing aspiring scientists to computational thinking, programming, and mechanical engineering; support for the existing Young Adult Literacy Program; expansion of the College Connect program; and the expansion of teen internship and volunteer opportunities, including Story Teen, Bookmatch teen, BKLYN Library Youth Council, and Librarians of Tomorrow.
More information about Brooklyn Public Library’s teen programming can be found online.
The New York Public Library has committed to enhancing services for teens in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, beginning with the launch last year of expanded services at the teen center in the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library and the opening of 19 dedicated centers this fiscal year. The newly enhanced teen centers will focus on interest-driven learning — supporting digital literacy and technology skills, teen empowerment and civic engagement, the exploration of teen voice and social identity, mental wellness, and mentoring opportunities.
The New York Public Library’s new initiative, Teens 360º — which launched last fall — will respond to the unique needs that surfaced during the pandemic, and includes new and innovative programs informed by teens themselves and includes upcoming opportunities, such as:
- The launch of an expanded Teen Reading Ambassadors internship program that employs 70 teens throughout the school year across 31 sites.
- The return of NYPL’s College Fair on October 21, where prospective students will have the opportunity to meet with schools and universities, attend college-prep workshops throughout the day, and find resources to support their post-secondary success.
- The launch of a new, teen literary magazine — Teen Voices — a print and online publication featuring teen writing, art, and photograph.
- The Library After Hours: Teen Takeover — an evening event held throughout the seven floors of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library on Saturday October 29 — where teens can dress up in their finest Halloween costumes, enjoy teen-curated activities, dancing, and fun.
More information about The New York Public Library’s initiatives and its programs and services created for teens is available online.
With Google.org’s support, the Queens Public Library renovated its existing, freestanding Far Rockaway Teen Library and expanded the library’s digital capabilities. Building on the success of the teen library, the Queens Public Library will leverage Mayor Adams’ investment to upgrade its teen centers at Central, Cambria Heights, and Flushing libraries, and establish a new teen center at the Long Island City library, providing new computers and software, 3D printers, recording equipment, charging stations, and gaming systems in reconfigured spaces. Teens will enjoy opportunities to develop the creative and tech skills needed in today’s ever-evolving digital world, with podcasting, audio and visual recording, editing, beat-making, and robotics instruction. In addition, dedicated staff will guide teens in navigating the everyday challenges of adolescence and offer new programs focused on peer-to-peer learning, mental health, college access, career exploration, community engagement, and social justice.
The mayoral funding will enable the Queens Public Library to expand the following critical initiatives:
- Youth Justice Court: Through Queens Public Library’s partnership with Queens Defenders, middle and high school students will learn about neighborhood issues and all sides of the criminal justice system at weekly workshops held at the five teen centers. They will train to become peer judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and jury members, and participate in a mock trial.
- College Access: At Queens Public Library’s five teen centers and throughout the borough, the library will offer counseling and resources to help teens and their caregivers navigate the college application process and identify a post-secondary path.
- Young Adult Literacy Services: Trained staff at Central Library and the Far Rockaway Teen Library will prepare young adults, ages 16-24, to earn a high school equivalency diploma. They also will provide digital literacy support, workforce readiness and resume workshops, multicultural seminars, computer-assisted instruction, internships, and case management services.
- Civic Engagement: Through hands-on volunteer opportunities, teens will gain an understanding of the impact of community service that will contribute to a lifelong commitment towards helping others.
More information about the Queens Public Library’s initiative and the programs and services created for teens is available online.