CHESTERFIELD, Va., Nov. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Comcast kicked off the third year of Internet Essentials, the nation's largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption initiative for low-income families, at a special event at Greenleigh Instructional Learning Cottage in the Greenleigh Mobile Home Community in Chesterfield, Va. In about two years, the program has connected more than 1 million low-income Americans, or about 250,000 families, to the Internet in their homes. This includes more than 17,000 people, or more than 4,300 families, in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Comcast Vice President of Government and Community Relations Donna Rattley Washington was joined last evening by Chesterfield Board of Supervisors Chairman Dorothy Jaeckle, Chesterfield School Board Member Carrie Coyner and Principal of Scott Elementary School Joan Temple, to discuss how the Internet Essentials program has made demonstrable progress in closing the digital divide. During the event, Rattley Washington presented a $5,000 grant on behalf of Comcast to the Chesterfield Public Education Foundation to fund technology enhancements and digital literacy training at the learning center, which serves 500 students living in the Greenleigh Mobile Home Community.
"As Internet Essentials enters its third year, Comcast remains fully committed to ensuring more low-income American families have access to the same opportunities as other families who are online at home, and we're making great strides. Compared to a year ago we have more than doubled the number of families in Virginia who are now able to complete school assignments, access government resources, apply for jobs and scholarships and pay bills at home," said Rattley Washington. "We appreciate the ongoing support we have received from our various partners throughout Virginia to help close the digital divide."
"Broadband has quickly become an essential part of how we live, how we are educated and how we conduct business," said Principal Temple. "We are pleased that our partnership with Comcast will help create opportunities for success for the students and parents we serve in the Greenleigh community."
Commonwealth of Virginia Secretary of Education Javaid Siddiqi said, "The Internet has become a critical educational tool, and Internet Essentials addresses online accessibility for students, regardless of their socioeconomic status. I applaud Comcast for their diligence in ensuring all students are prepared for the 21st century."
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.
In the Richmond area, Comcast is working with 20 community-based organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Clubs, Communities in Schools, GRASS, Richmond Public Library, William Byrd Community House and the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, among others, to spread the word about Internet Essentials. More than 100 community based organizations across the Commonwealth of Virginia have partnered with Comcast in this initiative.
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.
SOURCE Comcast Cable