We’re Putting Digital Inclusion First at the FCC


If you overheard a conversation about Byte Back at a party, you could probably gather that we offer free tech training for DC-area adults. That’s not all we do for students: we have career workshops, we connect them to employers, we host events like last fall’s Community Tech Day, and when the opportunity arises, we share their journeys and amplify their voices.

Elizabeth Lindsey, Byte Back executive director, recently joined the Federal Communications Commission’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment. This committee, announced by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, was established to provide the FCC with policy recommendations that ensure all Americans “the opportunity to participate in the communications marketplace, no matter their race, gender, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.”

This mission gets at one of Byte Back’s core values: everyone deserves the chance to utilize the technological advantages that many of us take for granted. To that end, Byte Back has over 700 enrollments each year in free classes that help people gain tech skills. We also offer career services to help them turn those skills into a living-wage careers that use technology.

Gaining skills is only one facet of the digital divide. Training to use a computer and the internet has to be within reach, along with affordable home computer and broadband access.

Persistent digital inequity challenges like infrastructure and internet governance are beyond Byte Back’s mission. However they still affect our students’ ability to succeed. We know this from 20 years of experience working with low-tech, low-income DC communities – experience that uniquely qualifies us to speak on the challenges our clients face.

As a member of the Digital Empowerment and Inclusion Working Group, we can help influence substantial, national changes in the way we address the digital divide. We will advocate for policies that will help our students as well as millions of people who face similar barriers across the US.

Over the last 30 years, the internet has changed the way we live our lives. Because of that, more people than ever before are engaged with the FCC’s rulings. Recent debate has been highly politicized, even heated. But we believe in solving problems and in working together to find solutions.

Driven by dedication to our students’ success, we look forward to finding solutions and representing our students’ voices as a member of this committee.