According to a five-year progress report, Comcast NBCUniversal’s (No. 29 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) acclaimed Internet Essentials program has helped connect 750,000 families, or 3 million low-income Americans, to low-cost, high-speed Internet service at home.
Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast Corporation David L. Cohen made the announcement alongside six-time Olympic Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who was recently named the national spokesperson for Internet Essentials. The two kicked off a multi-city tour that, over the next six weeks, will stop in Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, Denver, and Philadelphia where the company will announce more than $2 million in grants to community-based organizations that provide vital digital literacy training and internet access.
“In the last five years, we’ve learned that no single company or government program is ever going to fix the digital divide and that solving a big, difficult societal issue like this takes nothing short of a movement,” said Cohen. “We are so proud that thousands of community partners around the country have helped us make a meaningful dent in the digital divide. With the recent announcement of our expansion to HUD-assisted homes, we look forward to bringing this essential connection to even more families over the next five years. There is still more good work to do.”
“I’ve dedicated my life to inspiring young people to have the confidence to succeed in both academics and athletics,” said Joyner-Kersee. “At my foundation’s community center in East St. Louis, I’ve seen first-hand the kids who grow up without internet service at home and the impact it has on their futures. I’m proud to represent Internet Essentials and help close the digital divide, so every child can have the chance to develop to their fullest potential and reach their dreams.”
The progress report comes on the heels of a recent announcement by Comcast to expand the program’s eligibility to households receiving HUD-housing assistance, including public housing, Housing Choice Voucher, and Multifamily programs. In total, there are up to 2 million HUD-assisted homes in Comcast’s service area across the country, which, according to HUD, account for approximately 40 percent of all its households. The announcement means even more individuals, including seniors, veterans, and adults without children, are now eligible to apply to the program.
The comprehensive Internet Essentials Five Year Progress Report available online here, includes significant new milestones highlighting the program’s impact on the lives of its customers since its launch in 2011. In addition to the 3 million connections delivered since its inception, the report shows that Comcast has invested more than $300 million in cash and in-kind support to help fund digital literacy training and educational initiatives, reaching nearly 4.4 million people through national and local nonprofit community partners.
The report goes on to note that, since the launch of the program, Comcast has distributed 54,000 subsidized computers and partnered with more than 9,000 community partners, including schools and school districts, community-based organizations, elected officials, and businesses who understand the importance of bringing the Internet home.
Internet Essentials Investments
Since 2011, Comcast has invested more than $300 million in cash and in-kind support to fund digital literacy initiatives nationally, reaching nearly 4.4 million people through our national and local nonprofit community partners. Additional key program milestones and facts through June 2016 include:
– Dedicated more than $1.8 million in grants to create Internet Essentials Learning Zones, where networks of nonprofit partners are working together to enhance public Internet access and increase family-focused digital literacy training in Atlanta, Baltimore Chicago, Denver, Fresno, and Seattle, among others.
– Broadcast 8.5 million public service announcements, valued at nearly $110 million.
– Provided more than 54,000 subsidized computers at less than $150 each.
– Distributed nearly 53 million pieces of Internet Essentials program material for free.
– Welcomed more than 6.4 million visitors to the Internet Essentials English and Spanish websites, and its Online Learning Center.
– Fielded more than 4.4 million phone calls to our Internet Essentials call center.
– Offered Internet Essentials to more than 55,000 schools in more than 5,000 school districts in 39 states and the District of Columbia.
– Partnered with over 9,000 community-based organizations, government agencies, and federal, state, and local elected officials to spread the word.