NJBIA's Public Policy Forum: The Road to Recovery REGISTER

Comcast announced this week new steps to help advance digital equity for more students and families. Internet Essentials – the nation’s largest, most successful, and most comprehensive broadband adoption program for low-income households – will now expand eligibility to Federal Pell Grant recipients.

In addition, Comcast pledged to donate $15 million worth of Internet service and equipment, including more than 25,000 laptops, to low-income students, seniors, veterans, and adults.

The announcement is part of Project UP, Comcast’s comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity and help build a future of unlimited possibilities; and comes while Comcast marks the 10th anniversary of its Internet Essentials program, which has connected a cumulative total of more than 10 million people to the Internet at home – most for the very first time.

These additional initiatives arrive as the COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated far-reaching effects that disproportionately impact those who have traditionally lacked access to the tools, resources, and skills needed to get online.

Compounding this reality is research showing low-income students and their families face numerous broadband adoption challenges, like housing insecurity, literacy challenges, language barriers, and broadband relevancy issues.

As a result, Comcast’s digital equity efforts have been designed to address as many of these challenges as possible, including offering low-cost broadband Internet at home; the option to purchase a heavily subsidized, affordable computer; access to free WiFi in community centers nationwide; and numerous options to acquire the digital skills necessary to navigate distance learning and use the Internet.

“Digital equity is key to success in education and economic mobility, now and into the future,” said Broderick Johnson, Executive Vice President, Public Policy and Executive Vice President, Digital Equity.

“As our economic, medical, and educational systems become increasingly digital, it’s more important than ever that every American gets online. For those young people pursuing higher education, the expansion of IE eligibility to Pell Grant recipients is a real boost.  Through the announcements we are making today, we will help support the development of a workforce that has the digital skills necessary to adapt to rapid shifts in a fast-evolving economy.”

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