Certainly this is no time to celebrate. Unemployment is high in the District (11.9%) and the pain has not been shared evenly. In October, the unemployment rate in Ward 3 was 3.1%, but in Ward 8 it was 28.1%. While the job market looks bleak, for many Washingtonians, this is the time to take advantage of job training opportunities. As the market improves, they will be ready for a 21st century job that pays a living wage with opportunities for advancement. Byte Back is working hard to meet the job training and technology needs of the community, and we are getting some help from a wide variety of partners.
This fall we began offering classes at three partner organizations: Catholic Charities in Chinatown (Ward 6), Academy of Hope in Edgewood Terrace and First Time Computers in Brookland (both in Ward 5). These organizations have opened up their classrooms to Byte Back instructors and students, enabling us to meet our where they live. D.C. Learns provided us with two full-time AmeriCorps volunteers, which enables Byte Back to greatly expand our daytime class offerings.
As a result of these partnerships we have been able to greatly expand our programming. By early December, almost halfway through our fiscal year, we have enrolled 144 students in our Office Track program, almost as many students as we had in the program for the entire year last year. We have enrolled 214 students in our computer literacy course, PC for Beginners.
Not only is enrollment on the rise, but we are expanding our programs as well. This fall we began offering courses to prepare for A+ and Microsoft Application Specialist (MOS) certifications. In January we will offer training for Internet and Computing Core Certification (IC3) certification, and we are gearing up to offer Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS), Net +, Linux+, Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST), and Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) in Project 2007. These courses, and the certifications they lead to, will greatly enhance the ability of our students to secure gainful and rewarding employment.
We have established new partnerships with Booz Allen Hamilton and with Trinity University, which will both be providing a large number of volunteers to help with instruction, curriculum design, and other projects. This January we will begin partnering with the Perry School, located in the North Capitol Street neighborhood (Ward 6), to offer evening classes.
Byte Back will be partnering with the D.C. Public Library on a pilot project to provide computer literacy classes to 400 senior citizens beginning in January. Classes will take place at two library branches, the Woodridge Neighborhood Library at 1801 Hamlin St NE (Ward 5) and the Francis A. Gregory Neighborhood Library at 3660 Alabama Ave SE (Ward 7). Graduates of the program will receive a free refurbished computer thanks to First Time Computers, as well as two years of free internet service thanks to One Economy, Qualcomm, Cricket and Google. The D.C. Office of the Chief Technology Officer has applied for technology stimulus funds to expand this program.
We are so deeply grateful for these new friends and partners, and for the individual donors, foundations and corporations which have provided the funding for these new initiatives. Happy New Year to you all.