After announcing expansion plans to the city last year, Byte Back began its first tech skills classes in Baltimore this month.
Through a partnership with YearUp Baltimore, which provides a program to prepare youth aged 18-24 to work at local companies, Byte Back is leading a course in IT fundamentals for 15 local young adults who are preparing for internships and jobs at local companies through YearUp’s programming, said Chrissie Powell, Byte Back’s Baltimore site director.
“It was a big moment for us to launch that first site, and we are set to launch two more classes in July,” Powell said.
Class is in session, Baltimore!! We are so excited to welcome 15 students into their first IT class and our very first Baltimore class. Click and share to support Byte Back Baltimore: https://t.co/7fMJw47AVl pic.twitter.com/rJM77Wi2Ga
— Byte Back (@ByteBackDC) June 3, 2019
The tech inclusion nonprofit, which started more than 20 years ago in D.C., provides computer and digital skills training for residents who don’t otherwise have access to tech training. With jobs increasingly reliant on technology, Byte Back works with residents in under served communities who haven’t gained those skills, and also provides certifications in specific areas of IT.
Byte Back expanded to Baltimore after receiving a $775,000 grant when it won a 2018 challenge backed by Canadian bank TD. Earlier this year, Powell joined as Baltimore site director, drawing on experience in Baltimore’s nonprofit sector with Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake to lead the expansion to the city. For the recently launched course, Zachary Heidemann joined as an instructor, and another two instructors as well as an education coordinator are also set to be joining in the coming weeks, Powell said.
The initial six-week program meets five days a week at Baltimore City Community College, where YearUp is based. It’s designed to provide students with CompTIA IT fundamentals certification, which will prepare them for YearUp-sponsored internships and jobs such as a help desk support technician.
As it looks to grow in the city, Powell said Byte Back is seeking to partner with workforce development organizations working in the Baltimore communities where the students taking the courses live.
“We wanted to make this as easy as possible as far as accessibility and transportation for residents,” Powell said. “We want to eliminate as many barriers as possible.”
Local partnerships have been key thus far. Powell said Byte Back has been welcomed by the tech community, and a more formal launch event is being planned for late September. Along with partnerships, the organization will look to establish its own site where it offers classes moving forward.
“At the end of the day, collaboration is what’s going to truly make an impact in Baltimore,” Powell said.
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