Baltimore Site Launches New Classes with Makerspace Open Works


Johnston Square Neighborhood Benefits from Free Tech Training

By James Merritt, Engagement & Recruitment Coordinator, Baltimore

For the first time, Open Works opened its doors to community residents for free tech training, in partnership with Byte Back.

The nonprofit known for being a community workspace is offering its computer lab in partnership with Byte Back to help adults improve their computer skills.

Fifteen community residents will take advantage of the first free Computer Foundations training at Open Works on Greenmount Avenue.

Open Works was founded in 2016 to rebuild Baltimore’s manufacturing economy from the grassroots up — one maker at a time. Byte Back provides a pathway of inclusive tech training that leads to living-wage careers.

Chrissie Powell, Byte Back Baltimore site director, and Will Holman, executive director of Open Works, celebrate the new partnership on the first day of class.

“This partnership was born out of necessity,” said Chrissie Powell, Byte Back Baltimore site director. “So many adults have been left out of the digital transformation of our economy. It’s truly an epidemic in our nation and our city,” she said. “By partnering with Open Works, this is one step toward addressing that issue.”

“People come for the tools, but they stay for the community,” said Will Holman, executive director of Open Works. “The real value of a makerspace isn’t the tools or the technology or the space, it’s the community and the connections that blossom there,” he said. “We want to continue to help Johnston Square blossom.”

Byte Back partners with organizations around Baltimore to provide free tech training that leads to living-wage employment.

The Washington, DC-based nonprofit opened their site in Baltimore in May 2019. Since opening, Byte Back has served more than 70 Baltimore residents and hopes to serve more than 200 in 2020, including in ongoing courses with Open Works.


More about Open Works:

In the three years since Open Works opened on Greenmount Avenue, the 34,000-square-foot space has gained a foothold as a space for makers and entrepreneurs to build products and companies. It has also brought in opportunities for education and community connections.

The space has accounted for $8.5 million in economic impact on a combined state and local level. Open Works supports more than 55 small businesses and 118 jobs when factoring in both employees who work at the space and the members who use its micro-studios and use its tools.