Young Professionals Join the Fight to Close DC’s Digital Divide


There are more than 200,000 young professionals in the DC area, many of whom are eager to impact their community. They now have a unique opportunity to get involved with one of DC’s most impactful and quickest growing tech organizations. 

NGC First Meeting

Training Manager Ellen Bredt (left) joined the Next Gen Council at its first meeting, which took place in June at Byte Back’s previous headquarters in Brookland.

This summer, Byte Back launched the Next Gen Council (NGC), a volunteer group connecting the 20-year-old tech education nonprofit with DC’s new generation of business and nonprofit leaders. The NGC – made up of 16 young professionals –is enthusiastic, engaged, and eager to pull in the community to help close the digital divide. 

In order to achieve the mission of bringing tech within reach for DC’s most vulnerable populations, Byte Back has innovated as fast as tech has evolved. The NGC is the latest of those innovations: a new way to engage with an expansive network of young professionals in the tech and social services, people uniquely suited to help bridge the digital divide.  

“Given Byte Back’s mission to provide tech and career training, young professionals can make a big difference by getting involved,” said Alex Pham, chair of the NGC. “Many of us have grown up around technology and have gone through career searches, so sharing what we already know could help many students.”

The Next Gen Council is already taking on a number of substantive issue areas to support the organization’s mission, including engaging the DC tech community, connecting potential employers with graduates, and increasing alumni outreach. Individual NGC members will also serve as mentors, review student resumes, conduct mock interviews with students, and fundraise.   

Second NGC meeting

NGC Chair Alex Pham and members Rebecca Helberg and Cameron Hames discuss committee activities during a recent meeting.

“Opportunities [like Byte Back training] don’t come about like this,” said Shannon, a young Byte Back graduate, “… to find people who care enough to give that to you and walk you from beginning to end and make sure you get employed afterwards is a blessing.” The newest additions to Byte Back’s team help students like Shannon on a pathway from beginner courses to certification and living-wage employment. 

The NGC will share career experience with graduates, many of whom have never held an office job before. They will inspire students like John, a young graduate of Byte Back’s intermediate Microsoft Office course. After the training, he said, “I am actually not afraid to apply for an office job now.”  

In addition to organizational advisement and direct volunteering, one of the most valuable and innovative aspects of the NGC is to tap into the expansive networks of DC young professionals with technical and career savvy. The group will host events, recruit volunteers, and promote Byte Back’s social media through the Next Gen Network, an extended community of volunteers who will further support bringing tech within reach.  

The Next Gen Network will become a hub for DC residents who believe in the power of tech to transform lives and want to share their skills and knowledge with the community. “If we can connect the people on either side of the digital divide, we can bridge that gap,” said Elizabeth Lindsey, Byte Back executive director. “We really can bring tech within reach in the DC metro area.” 

Email ngc@byteback.org or visit https://byteback.org/get-involved/next-gen-network/ to get involved with the Next Gen Council and Next Gen Network.