The Bourns Family Youth Innovation Center cries out for technology.
It has 3D printers, a sound room, a film production room and a computer lab as well as a living room equipped with six televisions ready to broadcast games from common Nintendo Switch and Xbox.
All of this is tucked away in an unpretentious building in Riverside’s Arlington Park, waiting to be used at the grand opening on Saturday, September 25.
“We are very different from any other youth center: no other center offers a quarter of what we offer,” said Victoria Koo, Recreation Services Coordinator at Riverside. “We are really trying to publicize this innovative image. “
Located at the corner of Roosevelt and Miller Streets, on a site that was previously a hockey rink, the center wasn’t always designed to be a tech hub.
It was originally intended to be a daycare center, but when the city could not find an organization to operate the facility and the needs of the community changed, the plan moved on. idea of a daycare, said Randy McDaniel, interim director of Riverside. parks, recreation and municipal services.
“The City of Riverside is the city of arts and innovation,” McDaniel said. “The center offers typical youth services like access to a computer, but the center is focused on innovation and it’s not something we had in our community.
The facility was slated to open in the spring of 2020, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the grand opening has been postponed until this month, although some classes started in August.
Despite the setback, city officials are eager to see the official opening and show what the center has to offer.
“The most important part of our facility is accessibility,” said Jessica Ochoa, Riverside Recreation Supervisor. “Often in schools, children in STEM programs are children who are already moving in this direction. We focus on these children as much as we would focus on someone who does not have a support system. They don’t have to be a genius, they don’t have to be a straight student in school.
The motto of the center is the acronym CREATE, which stands for computers, robotics, engineering, art, technology and electronics – the focal points of all classes.
The center offers courses in robotics, programming, coding, and web design, to name a few. All are taught by instructors such as Isabel Ordaz, 22, a recent graduate of California Baptist University.
“Computers are my main passion,” Ordaz said. “It’s so interesting to see kids get excited about designing or coding websites. These are classes that weren’t available to me when I was a kid and I’m happy these kids are starting so young.
One of the classes Ordaz and city officials are excited to show is a program called Girls that Code.
“STEM is an area from which women have traditionally been excluded,” Koo said.
The center will also offer courses with professionals in their respective scientific fields, but in addition to STEM-focused programs, the center also offers trade-based courses.
Sound engineering, film and light production are some of the commercial programs available at the center.
A demonstration of these classes, along with other amenities, will take place during the grand opening from noon to 3 p.m. During the event, the public will be able to purchase subscriptions and view the free courses.
About half of the lessons are free. For Riverside residents, annual memberships cost $ 25 for adults and $ 15 for children 18 and under. For non-residents, the price is $ 37.50 for adults and $ 22.50 for children.
Memberships include exclusive access hours to the centre’s computer lab and manufacturing room. The center is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and closed on weekends.
The center is named after the Bourns family, who donated $ 1 million for construction.
For now, classes are focused on K-12 students, but the center is planning adult classes as well as classes in partnership with the Riverside Unified School District and nonprofits like Homeless. Solutions, which serve at-risk youth, Ochoa said.
Funding can be difficult.
“Our goal is to have at least $ 20,000 in scholarship funds that we can offer to our youth,” Ochoa said. “We currently have $ 14,000 and will probably be using it by next summer for our summer camp programs.”
The scholarship fund is what feeds the courses and camps at the center. Donors can contribute through the Riverside Community Services Foundation. The price of professionally-led courses ranges from free to low-cost, depending on factors such as the volume of students and the materials needed for the workshop.
Donations from sponsors pay for the maintenance of the facility. The budget can also affect the centre’s degree of innovation.
“We would like to keep up with the technology and offer this equipment here so that we can keep it innovative,” Koo said. “Technology changes in a minute, everything is so fast in technology. The goal is to keep up with technology to keep accessibility the same.
Even though logistics will prove difficult in the future, the center is primarily focused on the underserved community it is in and the young people it serves.
“If we reach out to a person and change that person’s life,” Ochoa said, “We have done our job so far.”
Information: 951-826-8782, rivreg.org or e-mail at [email protected]
This article is part of California Divide, a newsroom collaboration examining income inequality and economic survival in California.