Comcast joined the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor (BGCBH) today in an effort to promote technology skills among area youth. To this end, Comcast presented a check for $3,000 to support the BGCBH’s “Power Hour” program, which helps club members with their homework and teaches them important skills, including how to assemble working computers. Club members earn points for each computer they assemble. If they earn enough points, they can take a computer home with them. The donation from Comcast will be used to support the program and purchase the components club members need to assemble and earn the computers.
“I want to thank the Boys & Girls Clubs and Comcast for coming together and helping students in Benton Harbor gain important technical skills,” said U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Michigan. “Power Hour is integral to club members’ academic progress and ultimately will have a positive impact on their lives and on our economy.”
Comcast also gave an update on its Internet Essentials’ program’s progress in the area. Internet Essentials is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption initiative for low-income families. Internet Essentials helps close the digital divide by providing eligible families low-cost broadband service at home for $9.95 a month. Participating families also can purchase an Internet-ready computer for less than $150 through the program, as well as access digital literacy training sessions and materials online, in print and in person. To date, nearly 1,500 families in the Michiana area have enrolled in the program.
“Thanks to Internet Essentials, the BGCBH and our other community partners, many area families now have the opportunity to use the power of the Internet at home to get ahead at work, in education and in life, just by doing things online that many of us take for granted, such as applying for a job, researching a health condition, paying a bill or completing homework,” said Matthew Summy, Comcast’s regional vice president of Government and External Affairs. “Together, we’re making significant progress in closing the digital divide in and around the Michiana area.”
“We thank Comcast for its support and for helping us help so many area families learn about new technologies, gain access to Internet Essentials and other beneficial programs and services available to them,” said Brian Saxton, Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor. “Our goal is to work with Comcast, the city of Benton Harbor, state Sen. John Proos and state Rep. Al Pscholka to educate even more Michiana families about Internet Essentials and give as many Benton Harbor area families as possible access to the Internet at home.”
Internet Essentials gaining even more momentum
By June 2013, less than two years after its inception, more than 220,000 families nationwide – or an estimated 900,000 low-income Americans – had enrolled in the program and gained access to broadband Internet connection at home. And this fall, going into the program’s third year, its momentum started increasing. On average, through December 2012, about 50,000 households had enrolled each month. In the first six months of 2013, that number had increased to 70,000. Since the program’s inception in fall 2011, Comcast has distributed more than 18,000 subsidized computers; provided digital literacy training to 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 – about 1,900 alone here in Comcast’s Greater Chicago Region, which includes Southwest Michigan – to help spread the word about the program.
New in 2013
Comcast has updated Internet Essentials for 2013, including:
- 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. Comcast 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.
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