There is no doubt that during this day and age, having a connection to the internet has become a vital tool and part of everyday life in the American household, but the reality is, there are many Americans who are not able to afford access to the internet at home. Because of that lack of access, Comcast developed their Internet Essentials program in 2011, designed to connect low-income Americans to the internet at home.
Today, eight years later, Internet Essentials has become the largest, most comprehensive and successful broadband adoption program available for low-income families in the nation. Through this program, more than 8 million individuals and 2 million families have been connected to the internet, including nearly 340,000 people throughout the state of Washington.
“The internet is arguably the most important technological innovation in the history of our country and there is no question that it has fundamentally changed the way we learn, work, live, shop, play and communicate,” David Cohen, Comcast’s Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer says. “But the sad irony is that there are still millions of Americans who are not connected to the internet at home, especially in urban and suburban areas, and especially in low-income households.”
Comcast’s Internet Essentials program means much more than just introducing internet into a household; it’s about breaking barriers for members of our community in order to help them succeed. By providing low-income students, parents, families and military veterans access to the internet, those who have participated in Internet Essentials program have seen remarkable changes in their daily lives and feel more connected to the world around them.
Each year, Comcast is devoted to making their Internet Essentials program even better than it was the year before. By making the program easier to access and allowing more people to become eligible to qualify, Comcast is driven to continually helping improve their program and recently opened up the opportunity for every low-income family who lives in a Comcast footprint to have access to low-cost, high-speed internet at home in order to help pave the way for success.
“This expansion is the culmination of an audacious goal we set eight years ago, which was to meaningfully and significantly close the digital divide for low-income Americans,” said Cohen. “It is unacceptable that we live in a country where millions of families and individuals are missing out on this life-changing resource. Whether the internet is used for students to do their homework, adults to look for and apply for new jobs, seniors to keep in touch with friends and family, or veterans to access their well-deserved benefits or medical assistance, it is absolutely essential to be connected in our modern, digital age.”
On October 4, 2019, Comcast representatives visited Spokane as part of the Washington state stop of a multi-city tour across the country to help expand their Internet Essentials program and show the company’s commitment to help bridge the digital divide. Comcast was excited and proud to host a series of events with Spokane Goodwill, United States Paralympian Rico Roman, and Spokane Mayor, David Condon.
At the first event with Spokane Goodwill, Comcast unveiled a $50,000 grant that built a new state-of-the-art interactive digital classroom to support Goodwill’s job training program. The new computer lab will act as a hub for program participants and the community to gain stronger computer and internet skills while taking training courses focusing on digital literacy. The majority of participants are low-income, disabled or military veterans, and the new classroom is furnished with assistive technology developed to help individuals with different disabilities and needs succeed in today’s digital workforce. As one last surprise, Goodwill’s job training program participants in the audience were given laptops and six-months of free Internet Essentials service, helping them to stay connected and pursue their job training and career goals.
At the second event, Comcast spoke with local business and civic leaders to discuss how communities can come together to help connect their low-income and disabled neighbors to the internet. This was also a special event for Mayor Condon, Spokane’s outgoing Mayor, as Comcast was thrilled to surprise him for his dedication to supporting Internet Essentials over the years, giving him the 2019 Comcast Internet Essentials Community Champion Award. Taking it one step further, the company also presented a surprise gift of 50 laptops and six-months of complimentary Internet Essentials service to Family Promise Spokane. The Mayor has worked extensively with Family Promise during his two terms and the new computer resources will go to families transitioning from shelters into permanent housing. Through this technology gift, these families will have an opportunity to find more stability in their lives and set themselves up for a successful future.
Comcast is dedicated to providing Americans with the equal opportunity to connect to the internet in their households. Through the program, individuals and families pay only $9.95 per month, receive a free modem and complimentary installation, among the opportunity to purchase a heavily discounted and internet capable computer for less than $150.