Comcast today announced new steps to help advance digital equity for even 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 researchshowing 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.”
Federal Pell Grant Expansion:
Comcast’s expanded eligibility for Internet Essentials, to now include all Federal Pell Grant recipients within its service area, will enable even more students to stay connected as they continue to pursue degrees at colleges, universities, and technical schools. The Federal Pell Grant program, established in 1965, is the largest source of federal grant aid for students pursuing a postsecondary education.
“One thing this pandemic has taught us is the necessity of digital access for all students,” said Maureen Hoyler, President, Council for Opportunity in Education. “By expanding eligibility to include Pell Grant recipients, Internet Essentials has taken an important step towards helping low-income college students realize their postsecondary goals.”
$15 Million in Connectivity and Laptop Donations:
Comcast also committed $15 million to ensure low-income students and households have the critical tools and skills necessary to not only help close the “homework gap,” but also put them on a path toward future professional success. The amount includes an estimated 25,000 free laptops that will be donated to low-income students, seniors, veterans, and adults in cities nationwide, such as Houston, TX; Sacramento, CA; Seattle, WA; Philadelphia, PA; Hartford, CT; Baltimore, MD; Memphis, TN; Atlanta, GA; Detroit, MI; Chicago, IL; Jacksonville, FL; Minneapolis, MN; Oakland, CA; Boston, MA; Pittsburgh, PA; and Grand Rapids, MI.
Project UP – Building a Future of Unlimited Possibilities:
For over a decade, connecting more people to the Internet and the technology they need to participate and excel in an increasingly digital world has been a core focus for the company. Looking toward the next ten years, Comcast is building on that foundation and expanding its impact through Project UP, a comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity and help build a future of unlimited possibilities. Backed by a $1 billion commitment to reach 50 million people, Project UP encompasses the programs and community partnerships across Comcast, NBCUniversal, and Sky that connect people to the Internet, advance economic mobility, and open doors for the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, storytellers, and creators.