Submitted by: LeAnn Talbot, Freedom Region Vice President, Comcast

One of the most important learning tools for students is broadband Internet at home. With it, students can tackle almost any assignment. Beyond benefits to education, the Internet offers a world of opportunity to the entire family, bringing quick and easy access to an endless variety of resources that make health care, job searches, saving money and staying in touch with friends or family as simple as the click of a mouse.

Unfortunately, not everyone has broadband Internet service at home. Many low-income families struggle to afford it, while others simply don’t understand the benefits the Internet can provide.

In fact, in many low-income neighborhoods, broadband adoption rates are only around 15 to 20 percent, while in upper income communities, broadband penetration rates are as high as 90 percent. With 30 percent of the U.S. still without broadband Internet service at home, far too many continue to miss out on all the terrific resources the Internet can deliver.

To help bridge this digital divide in America, programs such as Comcast’s Internet Essentials have been developed. Offering families with at least one child eligible for the National School Lunch Program in-home Internet for less than $10 a month; computers for less than $150; and free digital literacy training online, in print or in person, it’s the largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program in the country.

In just over two years, Internet Essentials has connected one million low-income Americans – that is, more than 250,000 families – to the power of the Internet.

In the Philadelphia area, Comcast is working with a number of community-based organizations to spread the word about Internet Essentials. These organizations include: the School District of Philadelphia, Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia, Police Athletic League of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC), LIFT-Philadelphia, Urban Affairs Coalition, Career Wardrobe, Peoples Emergency Center and Project H.O.M.E., among others.

For the past two years, Comcast has also partnered with LIFT and OIC to conduct free digital literacy training.  Working with OIC in North Philadelphia and LIFT in West Philadelphia, Comcast has conducted 100 classes and trained more than 1100 attendees on topics such as: introduction to the Internet and computers, finding and applying for jobs online, search engine basics and email training.

“It’s a real gap in our clients’ knowledge base,” said LIFT-Philadelphia Executive Director Josh Romalis. “Many weren’t brought up with computers and typically didn’t have a chance to use them in work. The opportunity to learn more through these classes and find something about the Internet that is relevant is invaluable.”

Comcast has made it easy for anyone interested in helping spread the word about Internet Essentials to order free materials for their school or organization by visiting www.Partner.InternetEssentials.com. General information and an online registration form can be found at www.InternetEssentials.com or in Spanish at www.InternetBasico.com. We hope you will join us in our efforts to close the digital divide and connect more families to the life-changing power of the Internet at home.