Comcast Corporation Executive Vice President, David L. Cohen, announced the company will continue Internet Essentials indefinitely — beyond its initial three-year commitment. Internet Essentials is Comcast’s acclaimed national broadband adoption program for low-income families. The company also announced they would donate more than $1 million in grants to dozens of nonprofit organizations across the country to create Internet Essentials Learning Zones. The grants are part of a multi-faceted Gold Medal Recognition Program for communities that have done the most to help close the digital divide. In addition to the grants, Internet Essentials-eligible families in the Gold Medal-recognized communities who are not currently customers can receive six months of complimentary Internet service if they apply and are approved for the program by March 18. (See below for the list of communities.)
“In just two and a half years, this groundbreaking initiative has connected more than 1.2 million low-income Americans, or 300,000 families, to broadband Internet at home,” said Cohen. “We are also proud to join President Obama’s call to action for helping to realize his ConnectED educational goals as we announce today an extension and enhancement of our multi-year commitment to close the digital divide. Here at Comcast, addressing the digital divide head-on has long been a priority for our company. We believe the Internet has the power to transform lives, strengthen communities, and inspire a new generation of leaders.”
The grants made through the Gold Medal Recognition Program will be used to create Internet Essentials Learning Zones. These networks of nonprofit partners will work together to enhance public Internet access and increase family-focused digital literacy training. They will be established in communities in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Fresno, Miami and Seattle, among others.
A new study reflects that Internet Essentials service is widely used by participants to do school work and home users report that it helps “a lot.” In addition to schools, full-on participation by institutions, such as libraries, banks, government agencies, and employers, plays an important role in increasing broadband adoption and utilization.
“The research shows that for broadband adoption initiatives to successfully reach low-income families, they need to embrace two key elements,” said Horrigan. “First, they must be woven into the fabric of the entire community with trusted institutions that can help nurture and sustain Internet usage. Second, programs need to provide robust digital literacy educational opportunities that address the knowledge gap head on.”
Since 2011, Comcast has invested more than $165 million in cash and in-kind support to fund digital literacy initiatives nationally. Additional key program milestones and facts through the end of 2013 include:
• Comcast and its community partners have provided support for free digital literacy training and education for more than 1.6 million people.
• Broadcast more than 3.6 million public service announcements, valued at nearly $48 million.
• Sold more than 23,000 subsidized computers at less than $150 each.
• Distributed more than 33 million Internet Essentials brochures at no cost.
• Welcomed more than 1.8 million visitors to the Internet Essentials websites in English and Spanish, and the Online Learning Center.
• Fielded more than 1.9 million phone calls to Internet Essentials call center.
• Partnered with more than 8,000 community-based organizations, government agencies, and federal, state and local elected officials.
• Offered Internet Essentials in more than 30,000 schools and 4,000 school districts, in 39 states and the District of Columbia.
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