empowerment centers

Only 2 out of 5 youth living in poor communities have a computer
in their homes compared to 8 out of 10 in suburbs




The Magic Johnson Foundation’s Community Empowerment Centers (CECs) provide ethnically diverse urban communities access to resources and programming that educate, empower and strengthen individuals though the innovative use of technology.

“So many people take computer technology for granted because it’s such a major part of our society now, but imagine not have the education or access to computers. Low-income African-American and Latino children are at risk of being left behind and overlooked for jobs because they have not received the education and training like other ethnic groups. But, thanks to organizations that have a strong sense of responsibility, my foundation can come into the community and provide the necessary training and education that kids may not be getting otherwise.” – Earvin “Magic” Johnson

Program History

In 2001, MJF responded to the digital divide by launching state of the art technology centers in partnership with HP (Google HP Inventor Center). An original mission of providing computer and internet access to disadvantaged populations has expanded to a community empowerment effort. Also, the creation of comprehensive, one-stop resource centers address the collective technology, educational, workforce readiness and informational needs to the entire family. In 2005, our former HP Inventor Centers were aptly rebranded Community Empowerment Centers (CECs). Since 2001, CECs have provided direct services to over 255,000 students in 16 urban markets and the rural market of South Carolina.

Click here for statistics that motivate our work.


Long after others dismissed the digital divide, MJF remained cognizant of the critical role that technology might play in the 21st Century and continued to champion the digital needs of distressed communities.  Each of our Empowerment Centers is housed directly in the community removing the barriers of access and transportation while creating a safe haven that is conducive to learning. Locations include: large housing developments, schools, community centers and public parks. Our students range in ages 5 to 89. Community residents must receive free access to programs or services that are provided.

Each CEC is fully equipped with internet enabled state-of-the-art technology via a network configuration that includes 20 to 40 computers, flat screens, audio visual and other ancillary equipment. Our CEC partners were selected through a competitive RFP process based on their ability to extend our mission.


Magic Johnson Community Empowerment Centers offer a comprehensive range of educational, employment, and empowerment services which include:

Each CEC offers an array of classes that includes:

  • Computer basics (Hardware and Software)
  • Microsoft Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  • Internet Safety/Navigation
  • Workforce Readiness (Resume writing, Interviewing & Placement)
  • GED Preparation
  • Reading Literacy
  • Financial Literacy
  • Academic Achievement
  • STEM
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Anti-Bullying

Classes vary at the CECs.  Please contact the CEC closes to you for a list of current classes and programs being offered.

Click here for a list of MJF recommended educational websites.


As of September 2010, according to the NAEP, 70 percent of middle and high school students score below the proficient level in reading achievement. For minority and low-income students the figures are even more disturbing. Only 14 percent of African American, 17 percent of Hispanic, and 21 percent of Native American eighth graders scored at or above the proficient level. These results reveal that millions of young people cannot understand or evaluate text, provide relevant details, or support inferences about the written documents they read. Young adults who lack reading and writing proficiency will likely be relegated to the ranks of unskilled workers in a world where literacy is an absolute precondition for success.

The Magic Johnson Foundation recognizes that reading is a critical component for success in school and life. For this reason we started the Magic of Reading (MOR) Program. MOR is an interactive multiple modality learning program/experience that provides students access to books, educational programs, technology and mentors/authors who support our students. Furthermore, this programs helps:

  • Improve reading skills
  • Increase self esteem
  • Raise cultural awareness
  • Promote diversity

Please click here to learn more about MOR.

We are always in need of books, incentives and volunteers to support our youth.  Please click here if you are an author or corporation who is interested in supporting the Magic of Reading Program.


Since 2001 CECs have:

  • Provided direct services to over 255,000 participants in 16 urban markets
  • Awarded over $3 million in hardware and software grants
  • Awarded over $250,000 in online learning scholarships
  • Hosted over 1,000 students at Technology Boot camps
  • Improved the academic performance of over 7,500 youth
  • Provided SAT Test preparation for 500 youth
  • Received recognition and awards for best practice in after school programming


Community Empowerment Centers serve mostly low-income individuals ages 5 to 89. Services are open to anyone who wishes to enhance their educational, vocational, technical, and or life skills.  There is no formal recruitment process.


Free or reduced lunch 97%
Female 40%
Male 60%
African American 30%
Hispanic/Latino 60%
Pacific Asian/Islander, other 10%
Individual with disabilities 1%
Grades K-8 80%
Grades 9-12 & up 20%




• Baltimore
• Bennettsville (SC)
• Bladensburg (Maryland)
• Boston
• Carson
• Chicago
• Cleveland
• Eastover (SC)
• Greenwood (SC)
• Harlem
• Lansing (Michigan)
• Miami
• New Orleans
• North Miami
• Oakland
• Sacramento
Click here for more information about these locations

Click here to learn more about CEC services and program sponsors.