Mayor, Comcast team up to fund entertaining, educational Friday nights for Sacramento teens
As Sacramentans gathered to celebrate the civil rights legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., Mayor Darrell Steinberg announced Monday that he would make a mid-year City budget request of $350,000 to create Teen Tech Hubs and Teen Hubs, events designed to provide fun, educational activities for teens at about 10 locations around Sacramento every Friday night.
Comcast announced that it will invest $300,000 in Sacramento youth: A $100,000 contribution will be for the Teen Hubs and $200,000 will go to create the Teen Tech Hubs in partnership with community-based organizations that will offer meaningful, interactive technology experiences and trainings for teens.
“Dr. King talked about the ‘fierce urgency of now’ in terms of securing civil rights,” Mayor Steinberg said. “The same urgency faces us as a City when it comes to our young people, and especially our young people of color. We’re so grateful that Comcast has stepped up to help make sure children from all our neighborhoods have access to experiences that provide them with a constructive community of their peers and help prepare them to participate in the 21st Century economy.”
He said the City and Comcast would work with the Sierra Health Foundation and community-based organizations to program the events.
John Gauder, Regional Vice President of Comcast California, said the company is “excited to collaborate on this new initiative, and we applaud the Mayor and the City of Sacramento for its ongoing commitment to supporting the area’s youth.”
Gauder said Comcast will focus its contribution on digital literacy training that includes coding and programming and becomes progressively more advanced, ending in a prize when the program is completed.
“To engage and encourage youth, the sessions will be fun and interactive, featuring activities like virtual reality, 3D printing and more,” Gauder said. “Comcast looks forward to implementing these Teen Tech Hubs, which we believe are key to unlocking the immense potential of Sacramento’s young people.”
Mayor Steinberg is looking to build on the success of the Youth Pop Up events held earlier this month with a $30,000 grant from the Sierra Health Foundation. With just a few days’ notice, community organizations staged 14 events around the city that drew an estimated 1,400 young people on the weekend of Jan. 4-6.
Activities offered included roller skating, basketball, a mobile barber shop/beautician, DJs, a photo booth, movies, ping pong, and a talent show.
If Mayor Steinberg’s funding request is granted by the Sacramento City Council in early February, the money will be combined with the funding from Comcast to offer free weekend Tech Hubs and Teen Hubs across Sacramento neighborhoods through June, at which point Mayor Steinberg said he hopes to have secured more permanent funding in the City’s annual budget.
Mayor Steinberg joined Comcast representatives, community partners and Council Colleagues Rick Jennings, Allen Warren and Jay Schenirer in making the announcement at the North Sacramento Wellness Expo at Grant High School, where hundreds gathered after the North Area MLK March
“This day is only truly meaningful if we follow it up with action that says every young person is going to have great things to do in our community every Friday night, not just once in awhile,” Mayor Steinberg said.
The planned Friday night gatherings build on the rich history of urban “midnight basketball” and the City’s current neighborhood-based “Hot Spots,” which are held in one or two locations each weekend.
“A critical aspect of supporting Sacramento’s youth is to ensure that they have safe, positive learning environments,” said Councilmember Jay Schenirer, a leader on youth issues. “These gatherings provide that space. Working with our community-based organizations, this is an important part of making Sacramento a truly youth-friendly city.”
The sites will be distributed geographically and, to the extent possible, close to public transit to ensure that as many teens as possible, especially those in the most underserved communities, have access to positive alternatives.
Chet Hewitt, President and CEO of the Sierra Health Foundation and The Center at Sierra Health Foundation, said the new Teen Hubs and Teen Tech Hubs “will provide community-building to participating youth, as well as new skills that will contribute to their achievement in the workplace and beyond.”
“We hope this community-wide partnership demonstrates to our youth what we know: that their success and health is essential to the success and health of their families, our communities and our city as a whole,” Hewitt added.