PLYMOUTH, Mich., Nov. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- With the new school year in full swing, Comcast is re-launching Internet Essentials, the nation's largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption initiative for low-income families. State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, Jackson Mayor Marty Griffin, NFL great Tony Dungy and Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen, along with civic and community leaders, today kicked off the program's third year and announced that, in about two years, more than 250,000 families, benefitting an estimated 1 million low-income Americans nationwide, now have a broadband connection at home. This includes nearly 8,500 families in metro-Detroit, and nearly 13,000 in Michigan.
Today, Dungy returned home to his high school alma mater – now known as Middle School at Parkside – for a special discussion and assembly with over 700 seventh and eighth grade students. In addition to an inspiring leadership message, he spoke to the students on the importance of connectivity and made a special announcement about what he and Comcast are doing to close the digital divide. Comcast introduced and shared the success stories of several local families that have benefited from the Internet Essentials program, as well as gave away notebook computers to several deserving students at Parkside.
Dungy used the occasion to announce that the Dungy Family Foundation will donate enough six-month opportunity cards to all eligible Parkside families (currently enrolled or families that enroll in Internet Essentials by March 31, 2014) to ensure more Jackson families can get connected. In addition, the Comcast Foundation announced a $25,000 grant award to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center in Jackson to upgrade the Center's existing Tony Dungy Lounge and rename it the Tony Dungy Media Center.
"Internet Essentials can have a game-changing impact on education and the lives of young people," said Dungy. "It really levels the playing field for those that might not have the opportunities they deserve just because they never had access to the tools and resources that drive success in today's technologically advanced world."
Dungy, the Super Bowl-winning former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, leads the Dungy Family Foundation in Tampa, Fla., which strengthens, sustains and empowers communities by providing opportunities to those in need, opportunities like the ones provided through Internet Essentials.
"Thanks to community leaders and schools nationwide, more than 250,000 families or an estimated 1 million low-income Americans now have the opportunity to use the power of the Internet at home to get ahead in work, education, and life, just by doing things online that many of us take for granted, such as completing homework, applying for a job, researching a health condition, or paying a bill," said Cohen. "Together, with cities like Jackson, we are making real and significant progress in closing the digital divide in America."
The momentum of Internet Essentials continues to increase. Since the program's launch in August 2011, Internet Essentials has enrolled upwards of 50,000 new families every six months. In the first six months of 2013, 70,000 new families have signed up. In addition, Comcast has distributed more than 18,000 subsidized computers; trained nearly 20,000 people; publicized the program in more than 4,000 school districts and more than 30,000 schools; broadcast nearly 2 million public service announcements and partnered with nearly 7,000 community based organizations, agencies, and officials to help spread the word about the program.
2013 Internet Essentials Enhancements:
To increase enrollment and continue to help close the digital divide in America, Comcast continues to enhance Internet Essentials. This year we have:
- Increased Speed - For the second time in two years, Comcast has increased its broadband speeds for Internet Essentials customers up to 5 Mbps downstream and up to 1 Mbps upstream. The company has more than tripled the download speeds for Internet Essentials customers since the program's launch.
- Streamlined Enrollment – Comcast has further streamlined the enrollment process by expanding the instant approval process for families whose students attend schools where 70 percent or more of the students are eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program.
- Expanded Eligibility – Comcast has expanded program eligibility criteria for the second time, to include parochial, private, cyberschool, and homeschooled students. Now, nearly 2.6 million families nationwide are eligible for Internet Essentials.
- Created an Online Application Tool – On InternetEssentials.com and InternetBasico.com, it is now easier and faster for a family to apply for Internet Essentials. This convenient online request form is available in English and Spanish and can be accessed through any Internet-enabled computer, tablet, or smartphone. It can be used by families on computers at community centers, local libraries or at a friend's to request an application.
- Introduced Internet Essentials Opportunity Cards – Our community partners are now able to help connect low-income families to the Internet by purchasing Opportunity Cards that can be used toward the cost of paying for Internet Essentials service.
About Internet Essentials:
Internet Essentials from Comcast is the nation's largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program. It provides low-cost broadband service for $9.95 a month plus tax; the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for under $150; and multiple options to access free digital literacy training in print, online, and in-person. A household is eligible to participate if it has at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), is located where Comcast offers Internet service, has not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days, and does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment. Families that enroll in the program can continue to enjoy the service as long as one child eligible to participate in the NSLP is living in the household.
For more information about Internet Essentials visit InternetEssentials.com for English and InternetBasico.com for Spanish. Educators or third-parties interested in helping to spread the word can find more information at InternetEssentials.com/partner. Parents looking to enroll in the program can call 1-855-846-8376 or, for Spanish, 1-855-765-6995.
About Comcast Corporation:
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is a global media and technology company with two primary businesses, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone provider to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and also provides these services to businesses. NBCUniversal operates 30 news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures and Universal Parks and Resorts. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.