On the 10th anniversary of its Internet Essentials program, Comcast today announced it would invest $1 billion over the next 10 years to help further close the digital divide and give even more low-income Americans the tools and resources they need to succeed in an increasingly digital world.
The announcement coincides with the release of a 10-year progress report showing that, since 2011, the company, working in collaboration with its network of thousands of nonprofit partners, has connected a cumulative total of more than 10 million people in America to broadband Internet at home, the overwhelming majority of whom were not connected prior to signing up.
Comcast’s $1 billion commitment will include investments in a number of critical areas, including: additional support for its ongoing Lift Zone initiative, which establishes WiFi-connected safe spaces in 1,000+ community centers nationwide for students and adults by the end of 2021; new laptop and computer donations; grants for nonprofit community organizations to create opportunities for low-income Americans, particularly in media, arts, technology, and entrepreneurship; and continued investment in the company’s landmark Internet Essentials program. It is estimated that these new commitments will impact as many as 50 million Americans over the next 10 years. In 2021 alone, Comcast estimates students will be able to complete more than 25 million hours of remote learning lessons to further address the “homework gap” at the hundreds of Lift Zone locations that have already opened or will open soon.
“Ten years is a remarkable milestone, signifying an extraordinary amount of work and collaboration with our incredible community partners across the country,” said Dave Watson, Chief Executive Officer, Comcast Cable. “Together, we have been able to connect millions of people to the power of the Internet at home, and to the endless opportunity, education, growth, and discovery it provides. Today, we are rededicating ourselves to this mission to ensure that the next generation of students in America has the tools, resources, and abilities they need to succeed in an increasingly digital world.”
“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 Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “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.”
“Last year, we partnered with Comcast on a major campaign to encourage Americans to participate in the first-ever digital census,” added Rebecca DeHart, CEO, Fair Count. “We are so proud to have partnered with Comcast on this valuable work—connectivity is incredibly essential to civic participation. It gives communities a voice and it enables individuals to take part in the cultural conversations that need to take place in this country. Broadband adoption, just like census participation, can mean the difference between communities growing and thriving or being left behind. For the past decade, the Internet Essentials program has successfully helped to narrow these digital divides. We look forward to the next 10 years of Internet Essentials and join Comcast in celebrating this significant achievement.”
“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 Brent Wilkes, Senior Vice President at the Hispanic Federation. “We look forward to the next ten years of partnership with Comcast as we tackle more challenges in our ever-changing digital world.”