Our History | Byte Back

About Byte Back

Our History

Our Mission

Byte Back Provides a Pathway of Inclusive Tech Training that Leads to Living-Wage Careers.

Since 1997, Byte Back has served thousands of adults, helping graduates gain valuable tech skills, launch successful careers, and become part of the growing digital economy. 

“We have to do this. DC needs you and this.”

These words from Barbara Altman fueled the collaboration with her friend Glenn Stein and led to Byte Back opening in 1997.

Glenn started his career as a community organizer and fell into a role as the “guy in charge of computers.” He realized that IT professionals just had to prove that they could fix a computer; they didn’t need a degree. “I learned it by myself,” he said, “and I thought, ‘If I could do it, anybody could do it.’” Glenn shared his idea to open a computer and career training center in Honduras with Barbara over coffee in Adams Morgan. She convinced him that there was an opportunity to affect change right here in Washington, DC.

At the time, in the mid-1990s, welfare and affirmative action were being threatened and eliminated, there was a crack epidemic, people were really struggling in DC, and at the same time the tech industry was booming, Barbara describes. “I didn’t want to sit back and watch,” she says. “I wanted to do something.” The organization’s name sprung from the phrase “fight back.” 

The pair later served as co-directors of Byte Back, Barbara bringing the vision and Glenn adding the structure. Mike Mann, Ed Christie, and Carla Perlo also played important roles starting the org. The first classes were held at the Gospel Rescue Mission. Shortly after its founding, Byte Back bought a building that was to be used for its headquarters and classrooms, located in the heart of the Brookland neighborhood.

Between 2008 and 2015, under the leadership of former executive director Kelley Ellsworth, Byte Back grew nearly 10-fold in funding, number of course sites, number of students, and staff.

In 2015, Byte Back appointed a new executive director, Elizabeth Lindsey, who brought valuable experience in workforce development and leading nonprofit expansion. Under Elizabeth’s nationally recognized leadership, Byte Back has thrived as a dynamic nonprofit with a pathway of inclusive tech training that leads to living-wage careers. 

After 20 years in Brookland, Byte Back moved to a new office in Noma in 2017. The headquarters office, at 899 North Capitol Street, ensures that students have cutting-edge technology in a clean, safe, and highly accessible environment.

After winning CAD $1 million in the TD Ready Challenge, Byte Back expanded classes to Baltimore, MD in 2019, and taught more than 50 students in its first six months there.

In 2020, Elizabeth Lindsey was named Chief Executive Officer after leading Byte Back’s successful site expansion. She has won numerous awards during her time here, including The Root 100 in 2019, being named a three-time Washingtonian Tech Titan, and the Washington Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. She led a session at SXSW in 2018 and delivered a TEDx talk in 2019. 

Byte Back was named “One of the Best” nonprofits by the Catalogue for Philanthropy in 2010, 2014, 2018, and 2019. 

Closing the digital divide through tech training has given people hope and opened doors to living-wage jobs. Since 1997, Byte Back has served thousands of adults for free, helping them acquire marketable skills and obtain meaningful employment.

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