By Iyana Turner, Program Assistant
“So, maybe this is where the conversation begins,” Leslie Scott closed the meeting with her open-ended musing. With so much work to be done, digital inclusion is not just a priority at Byte Back, but across the whole country.
Three Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) Digital Inclusion Fellows visited Byte Back IT Academy on September 16. The Digital Inclusion Fellowship launched this year in 15 cities as an effort to address the digital divide and expand digital inclusion across the country. Leslie, James Butts, and Aneta T. Lee are looking for digital inclusion solutions in Kansas City, Raleigh, and Atlanta, respectively.
Solutions require “sustained work by local organizations, community leaders, and the private sector,” according to NTEN. Thirty-two percent of people who don’t use the Internet say they don’t go online because they find it difficult to use a computer or navigate the Internet. This is one of the statistics the fellowship, and Byte Back, are working to improve.
Byte Back is an active part of the solution to digital inclusion not just through our work in the District but also through meetings like this one with other digital inclusion leaders.
Byte Back staff and our visitors discussed the differences and similarities between our program and and programs being developed in other parts of the country.
“I guess one barrier we have is the belief that, after the first digital literacy class, people won’t come anymore,” one of the fellows expressed. This is not, however, Byte Back’s experience. Our numbers and and success stories of students show that many students continue past computer literacy classes into administrative and IT certification courses.
The Digital Inclusion Fellows spoke with two A+ students – Behrooz Bakhtiary and John Carpenter. They were asked about Byte Back, their studies, and their motivations.
The tour of Byte Back’s IT Academy, concluded with a visit to the A+ testing center, where we discussed the history and work Carine Umuzayire, certification program administrator, put into launching the center.
Byte Back looks forward to keeping up with the work of these three fellows and NTEN’s work nationwide on digital inclusion.