Growing up in East Baltimore, Anisah Best came from humble beginnings. After losing both her parents at a young age, she was raised by her grandmother. Today, Best credits her grandmother with saving her life.
“She laid a solid foundation that pushed getting an education, being respectful, and putting God first in all things,” she said. “And that has been a guiding light for me.”
That doesn’t mean it was always easy. As a teenager, she struggled with a lot of things, began to rebel, and dropped out of high school at 16. She eventually went on to get her GED through Job Corps. After that, she began to feel like her life was back on the right track. She started a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems at Towson University but ran out of funds and never finished.
For Best, not having a degree hasn’t held her back. She took a training class to get an IT certification. That got her an internship with TD Ameritrade, where she was eventually hired to work as a full-time quality assurance engineer in web development. She rose through the ranks to become a senior engineer before leaving her job in corporate America to focus on her business, helping to increase digital literacy and access for all, especially for people living in underserved communities.
Throughout her life, technology has always been there, providing a pathway that helped her move forward.
“What I went through shaped me into who I am today; it was all part of a plan. That’s why I started my business,” Best said. “I was moving up in the world, but my community wasn’t moving forward. Technology is an equalizer; all people need is access.”
Best began exploring ways to help her community be more digitally connected. She discovered efforts to improve access to the internet and to computing devices. But she saw there was a need for training, education, and awareness. For people to succeed in the digital age, they need to know how to use those devices and navigate the internet to fully realize the benefits of that technology.
Best started Baltimore Tech Hub as a way of increasing digital literacy and awareness in historically marginalized communities. As an OSI-Baltimore Community Fellow, Best will run the ED x Tech Literacy program to help increase basic digital literacy for returning citizens and senior citizens so that they can access information in a digital world. As our world moves increasingly online, people need to be able to navigate everything from setting up telehealth appointments to downloading documentation to connecting with loved ones. Over 12 weeks, instructors will work with small classes to teach basic tech essentials, skill building, and application of those skills.
With this fellowship, Best will devote 100% of her time to launching and growing the ED x Tech Literacy program.
“For me, success is being able to use my resources to uplift and empower other people,” Best said. “The other stuff does not matter.”