The Best Buy Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the consumer electronics big box store, so it’s no surprise that the foundation focuses on technology and “21st-century skills.” What distinguishes this funder more is its narrow student age-group focus, which is limited to teenagers 13 – 18.
The Best Buy Foundation defines “21st-century skills” as “innovative skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity” that rigorously utilize technology. This obviously lends itself to STEM education, but this funder sees things more holistically, with STEM education as a means of a well-rounded education that also includes substantial arts and media engagement—all as a way for students to be well-positioned in college and career pursuits.
But you're here because of libraries. So here's the best part: The Best Buy Foundation gives to a lot of them. The connector, of course, is that your library must provide a program to teenagers that engages them in Best Buy's broad ideas of 21st-century skills.
Funding for libraries flows through the foundation's Community Grants program, which gives to nonprofits working locally and regionally. The foundation states that the average grant size here is $5,000, with a maximum of $10,000. Eligible organizations must be a public or nonprofit community-based organization. The foundation gives community centers, schools, and, yes, libraries as examples. Any organization, including your library, and its program work must occur within 50 miles of a Best Buy location, and funds are only for program support, not general operating costs.
In the belief that “access to technology creates access to opportunity,” the Best Buy Foundation focuses on providing underserved student populations with “hands-on access” to technology education and tools that set them up for success—in high school, as a gateway to and through college, and for career preparation. In terms of those eventual careers, the foundation has a vision of inspiring and preparing “a new generation of engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers, designers, and dreamers.”
What types of programs does Best Buy fund? The foundation looks for those that “transform underserved teens from consumers to creators.” It provides a healthy list of examples, but also makes clear that these examples are just a starting point. They include program activities such as: Computer programming, Digital imaging (photography, graphic design, filmmaking), Music production, Robotics, Gaming and mobile app development, Computer maintenance and repair, Maker Fairs/hackathons, and Website design.
Many libraries across the country receive Community Grant support from the Best Buy Foundation. A sampling:
- $10,000 to the Dayton Metro Library (Dayton, OH);
- $9,975 to the Southeast Steuben County Library (Corning, NY);
- $8,000 to the Medina County District Library (Medina, OH);
- $6,000 to the Cabell County Public Library (Huntington, WV);
- $5,000 to the Friday Memorial Library (New Richmond, WI);
- $4,000 to the Florence County Library (Florence, SC);
- $3,100 to the Hayner Public Library (Alton, IL).
Best Buy Foundation's grant opportunities are open to all who wish to apply. Community Grant applications are due early July. If you happen to be a Twin Cities-based organization, then a special pot called the Twin Cities Fund gives you the opportunity to apply four times per year.