Between East Thirty-Fourth and Forty-Sixth Streets, and between Nicollet Avenue and Chicago Avenue is a collection of neighborhoods in Minneapolis, which is home to many BIPOC-identifying peoples, yet who also have an average household income which is $20,000 less than the income of the county at large. Over time, these conditions in a self-perpetuating cycle have created an economic apartheid where people of color in local neighborhoods have less generational wealth, lower property values or fewer routes to homeownership, lower educational attainment, and lower annual incomes.
Smart North has collaborated with members of the community and taken input from the community’s youth in order to develop a solution. Technology’s increasingly pivotal role within the workforce and larger world has become more and more apparent, and this is exactly the angle from which Smart North hopes to tackle these inequities. Smart North and its community partners plan to create new futures the youths of this community, providing them with new opportunities, tech/occupational education, and other services. They will offer programs to teach and impassion students about digital skills. In a given program, youths can learn programming, cyber security, augmented virtual reality, Web 3, drone piloting, and artificial intelligence. They can also learn to use technology for art, creative projects, and 3D design.
Beyond developing skills around technology, Tech Hubs also connect students with resources for mentoring, apprenticeships, portfolio development, and resume writing. Youths are also provided with holistic support for barriers and struggles they face as individuals with unique circumstances. They are provided with access to food pantries, mental health resources, clothing, and transportation assistance.