Comcast has announced plans to invest $1 billion over the next decade to help close the digital divide and provide low-income Americans with the tools and resources they need to succeed in an increasingly digital world.
Announced on the ten-year anniversary of the launch of Comcast’s Internet Essentials program — which has invested $700 million in digital literacy training, low-cost broadband service, and discounted computers for more than ten million Americans — the new commitment is expected to reach fifty million people. In addition to providing support for the company’s Lift Zone initiative, which is working to establish WiFi-connected safe spaces in more than a thousand community centers by year-end, the funding will support the purchase and donations of new laptops and computers; grants for nonprofit community organizations working to create opportunities for low-income Americans, with a focus on media, arts, technology, and entrepreneurship; and continued investment in the Internet Essentials program.
According to a progress report released in conjunction with the announcement, the program has helped boost the employment rate among Comcast subscribers by 8 percent and their annual earnings by an average of $1,385, while 78 percent of customers say the program helped them learn a new skill and 88 percent said it has helped them remain connected to healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For more than a decade, Comcast has been a leader in working with communities to close the digital divide through its Internet Essentials program,” said National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial. “From its beginning as a pilot program with the Wilmington Urban League to today, Comcast’s Internet Essentials program has transformed millions of lives by connecting low-income households to the power of broadband. While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic placed a spotlight on the digital divide, for the past decade Comcast, in partnership with organizations like the National Urban League, has been leading the effort to close the digital divide, address the homework gap, and ensure low-income communities have the necessary digital skills.”
“For a decade, Comcast’s Internet Essentials program has provided Latino families with tools and resources to access high speed Internet at home. Hispanic Federation has been proud to partner with Comcast and work with this program to bridge the digital divide and offer Latino communities the opportunity to access health, educational, and economic resources online,” said Hispanic Federation senior vice president Brent Wilkes. “We look forward to the next ten years of partnership with Comcast as we tackle more challenges in our ever-changing digital world.”