The digital divide continues to grow. Since 2011, Comcast and the Comcast Foundation have dedicated more than $200 million in cash and in-kind support to fund digital readiness initiatives nationwide, reaching more than 1.75 million people through nonprofit, digital literacy partners. Internet Essentials from Comcast is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program.
“David Cohen, Comcast’s executive vice president, announced we will continue the Internet Essentials program indefinitely. We are very, very concerned about the digital divide and we believe this is a program which is making a difference across the country,” shares Charisse Lillie, Comcast’s vice president of community investment.
Anywhere Comcast offers Internet service and any family with one child who’s eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program is eligible for the Internet Essentials program, including public, parochial, private and home-schooled students if you have not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days. The one exception was those who have an overdue Comcast bill.
“We announced an amnesty program for low-income families who qualify for Internet Essentials. If they have an outstanding bill that’s more than a year old, and as long as they meet all the eligibility criteria, they could apply for the program. We offered amnesty on the unpaid bills, past due balances, for the purpose of connecting to Internet Essentials,” adds Lillie.
Lack of Internet access impacts America’s minority communities. According to Pew, only 64 percent of African Americans have a high-speed broadband connection at home in the United State. This compares to 74 percent of white households. And, research by John B. Horrigan, Ph.D., shows that 21 percent of African American families with school-age children do not have broadband at home.
Internet Essentials provides low-cost broadband service for $9.95 a month plus tax; the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for under $150 and multiple options to access free digital literacy training in print, online and in-person.