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Spring 2011 Newsletter

Spring 2011 Newsletter

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Published by: David Song on Jun 28, 2011
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815 Monroe Street NEWashington, D.C. 20017Phone: (202) 529-3995Fax: (202) 529-4684Email: info@byteback.orgWebsite: byteback.orgCFC #73543United Way #8073
Byte Back’s Quarterly Newsletter — 
Spring 2011
Valarie Ashley steps up to the microphone at Byte Back's April graduation ceremony,where more than 80 graduating students from the Microsoft Office and A+ programs sitin the auditorium. And she asks the graduating class: "What's the difference betweengraduation here today, and a graduation at George Washington or Howard Univer-sity?"
Eighty Byte Back graduates proudly celebrate their accomplishments with special guests. Photo credit:Kristian Whipple
She peers at the assembly of students, staff, volunteers, as well as other prominent fig-ures
both local and national
at the graduation ceremony. Among the attendees wereCommissioner of Federal Communications Commission Mignon Clyburn, Deputy Adminis-trator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Deputy Admin-istrator Anna M. Gomez, and D.C. Public Library's Director of IT Chris Tonjes. Among thecrowd, there is a hush, as Ashley waits for answer."Nothing!" she cries, to a burst of smiles in the audience. "Because you will feel every bitof pride in the accomplishments that you've made that they feel. It's about finishing some-thing, persevering, and looking to the future, and realizing that today is the beginningand not the end."Southeast Ministry Executive Director Valarie Ashley's speech is only the beginning ofByte Back's graduation event at Dance Place in Northeast Washington D.C., where Ton-jes, Clyburn, Byte Back Executive Director Kelley Ellsworth, and other distinguishedspeakers from the community and government proceed to deliver words of encourage-ment to the graduates. Every speech affirms the accomplishments
and the futures
ofdozens of Byte Back students, and Byte Back's affiliates and partners were there to lendtheir support.
(Continued on page 2)
Spring Graduation
Executive Director‟s Corner
3Shock Therapy: Byte BackFeatured in Board SourceAlumnus Hosts Fundraiser 4Two Teaching Sites Close 4Students Evaluate Byte Back 5Community Computer Day 6Perspectives from SoutheastMinistry8Our Corporate Donors 9Spring 2011 Course Listings 1031
(Continued from page 1)
Volunteers at the event came from a variety of backgrounds:some of them are law students at Catholic and George Wash-ington University, while others are full-time service corps mem-bers working at Byte Back through DC Learns, Public Allies, andthe Lutheran Volunteer Corps. Volunteer instructor AndreWoods, who teaches PC for Beginners, served drinks for guestsat the bar.A number of the guests are affiliated with the Federal Commu-nications Bar Association, which recently partnered with ByteBack to engage in education opportunities for low-income com-munities in Washington, D.C. Other guests, such as Kris Mon-teith, represent the Federal Communications Commission and theD.C. Department of Employment Services.And some speakers were not guests, but graduating students
 — like Patricia Freeman, who told her fellow graduates, “When I
graduated from high school, I never imagined that my life
would take the turns it took.” Freeman, a graduate of volunteer
instructor Robert Wais-
burd‟s Microsoft Office
course, recounts enlisting her13-year-old daughter forhelp in Byte Back homework
(much to the audience‟slaughter): “I thank God that
I found Byte Back, that Ihave the skills necessary toreintroduce myself to the
 Other graduating studentsspeak at their graduationas well
Brian Champ en-courages graduates to
“spread the word, and tell
them that Byte Back is there
for them.” Ronald Searstells his fellow graduates, “A
lot of people here get the
thought that, „I‟m of a cer-tain age and I can‟t do this.‟I didn‟t think that this couldbe accomplished.”
 Clyburn, who delivers thelast word at the ceremonybefore Byte Back staff dis-tribute the graduation cer-tificates, tells the audience:"We are here as part of anincredible moment." Shetells the audience about thepower of community part-nerships."You see all these entitiescoming together, probablyunder any other circum-stances they might not inter-sect," she says. "You see lobbyists and community activists, li-brary systems and Commissioners
all of these entities comingtogether. You know what we have in common? The love of ourcommunities, and the power that we know is inside each andevery one of us."And if community is a recurring theme at the graduation, so arethe themes of courage and potential. At the graduation cere-mony, graduating students speak, with pride and laughter, ofnew skills acquired at Byte Back: how to apply for a job, how touse Microsoft Office, how to build a computer."All of you are the most brave people I know," Clyburn tells thegraduates. "You went out of your comfort zones by recognizingthat you have this ability to build upon your talents
you al-ready had these talents
and said, 'I want to learn this, to em-power myself, to maximize my potential.'"
Byte Back Director of Programs Debony Heart presents a graduation certificateto Microsoft Office graduate Diane Leach. Photo credit: Kristian WhippleFederal Communications Commission Commissioner Mignon Clyburn speaks atthe April graduation ceremony. Photo credit: Kristian WhippleByte Back graduate Patricia Freemanspeaks at her graduation. Photo credit:Kristian WhippleNTIA Deputy Administrator MariaGomez addresses the graduating stu-dents. Photo credit: Kristian Whipple
Kelley Ellsworth, Executive Director
Jewel Scott, the Vice-
Chair of Byte Back’s Board of Directors,
recently wrote an article for
, the online newsletterof BoardSource, a nonprofit organization that serves and helps
organize nonprofit boards of directors. Her article, “Shock Ther-apy,” is reproduced here:
Sometimes, we get a little more than we bargain for when weagree to serve as nonprofit board members
and we and ourorganizations are the better for it. I will never forget the lookon the faces of some of Byte Back's board members when, inthe middle of a board meeting, Executive Director Kelley Ells-worth suddenly veered from the agenda and asked all of us toget up from our seats, walk downstairs to our classrooms, andinterview our students. Our assignment: Find out, firsthand, whoour students are, where they come from, how they had heard ofour school of technology, how far they travel to reach our class-rooms, and what they expect to receive and accomplish throughtheir participation in our program.The experience, as it turned out, was priceless
one that a fewof our more reserved members would have missed out on if theyhad been given a heads up or a choice. Thankfully, they werenot. Shocked into action, they, like the rest of us, heard storiesthat we now share over and over again with our friends, familymembers, funders, and donors
stories that we will hold ontofar beyond our tenure as board members. Like the studentswho have been transformed by our organization, we werechanged that day as we learned of the determination andstruggle that brought them to Byte Back. Sometimes, we boardmembers need a little shock therapy to remind us how valuableour organizations are.
Reprinted with permission from boardsource.org. For more infor-mation about BoardSource, visit boardsource.org or call 800-883-6262. BoardSource © 2011. Text may not be reproduced without written permission from BoardSource.
 This week we submitted a grant proposal that included the fol-lowing directive:
Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder tostart this project.
Well, over the years, the story of Byte Back‟s founding has de-
teriorated like in the game of telephone, so I did not feel quali-fied to write this story with any accuracy myself. I decided togo right to the source. I emailed our founder, Glenn Stein. Tomy surprise, he answered my email within the hour. Glenn ex-plained that he finished college with a degree in Sociology andspent his early career working with community-organizing non-profits, on issues of civil rights, refugees, and arms control. Eventhough he had only taken a couple computer classes in school,he knew the most about computers in each of his workplaces, sohe was always tasked with solving computer problems. In1992, he found himself in New York City, unemployed. He re-wrote his resume emphasizing his experience with computerprojects, and leaving out his credentials with community orga-nizing. Glenn received multiple job offers, and took a positionon Wall Street as a computer programmer
earning threetimes what he had earned previously. Technology, he decided,would become his career, as well as the way in which he couldtransform communities.By 1994, there was talk about doing away with affirmativeaction, and Glenn wanted to combat this change. He understoodthat technology is the only white-collar career where a college
degree isn‟t necessary to success: you just need to be able to do
the work. Glenn relocated and founded Byte Back in 1998 inWashington, D.C. because the city had so many disadvantagedAfrican-Americans and such a strong IT job market.From the beginning, teachers at Byte Back have been volun-teers, and so the students have impacted the teachers as muchas the teachers have impacted impact the students. During thethree years as executive director, Glenn held a regular technol-ogy job and worked at Byte Back as a volunteer.And now our students, who are still mostly African-American,face new challenges from unemployment, which has ravagedour disadvantaged neighborhoods and spared the affluentones. Some nonprofits have closed their doors, while others have
had to cut back (see “Two Teaching Sites Close”). But our stu-
dents testify about how our volunteers teachers have trans-
formed their lives (“Students Evaluate Byte Back” and “SpringGraduation”). But just as important, our volunteers and partners
tells us how our students and their involvement has changed
them as well (“Shock Therapy” and “Spring Graduation”). The
most glorious moments are when students become teachers,
mentors and donors (“Community Computer Day”
and “AlumnusHosts Fundraiser”).We are so grateful to our wonderful supporters (“Our Corpo-rate Donors” and “Community Computer Day”), partners (“Our
Partnership to Fight Poverty
Community Computer Day”),
our volunteers, and of course, Glenn Stein.

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