Comcast Leaders join Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Thornton Township Supervisor Frank Zuccarelli, and others to mark achievement, urge more work on closing digital divide…
Comcast Foundation President Charisse Lillie today joined Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Thornton Township Supervisor Frank Zuccarelli, and other officials to announce that nearly 16,000 Cook County families have joined Comcast’s Internet Essentials program since its inception in late 2011, more than any county in the nation. Designed to help close the digital divide, the groundbreaking Internet Essentials program provides Internet service at home to eligible families for around $10 a month, the ability to purchase computers for around $150, and access to free digital literacy training in print, online, and in-person.
“The digital divide is a significant issue in Cook County. Children need access to the Internet to succeed in school, and families need access to the Internet to participate fully in the 21st century economy,” Preckwinkle said. “Internet Essentials has been an extremely effective public-private partnership. Through it, Cook County, Thornton Township and others, the community, and Comcast all came together to address an important economic issue – the digital divide – and made significant headway.”
Lillie added that Internet Essentials is the nation’s largest, most comprehensive broadband adoption initiative. In just 16 months since its inception, more than 150,000 eligible low-income families, or an estimated 600,000 people in total nationally, have enrolled in the program and are now able to connect to the Internet at home, most for the first time. Lillie also presented a $5,000 check from Comcast to the Center to enhance its computer lab and digital literacy programs.
Spreading the Word about Internet Essentials to even more Cook County families
To spread the word about Internet Essentials to the thousands of additional Cook County families that could benefit from the program, in addition to Cook County and Thornton Township governments, Comcast engaged literally hundreds of additional government entities and officials, community-based organizations, faith-based leaders, educators, and others. Comcast also printed and shipped 2.5 million pieces of collateral material about the program for free and sponsored more than 200 local events. To continue to spread the word, Comcast unveiled a new public service announcement on Internet Essentials featuring Preckwinkle that began airing today in the Chicago area. Preckwinkle also announced a Cook County Board Resolution declaring March 21, 2013 “Broadband Adoption Day” in the county.
PSA featuring Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle
“I am extremely proud of the work we’ve done here in Thornton Township and in the county to get families connected via Internet Essentials,” Supervisor Zuccarreli said. “However, too many children and families still don’t have access to the Internet at home, so I’m thrilled to see we’re redoubling our efforts to enroll more of them in Internet Essentials and continuing our work on closing the digital divide.”
To this end, Comcast announced significant enhancements to Internet Essentials designed to broaden eligibility and help and encourage even more families to enroll. They include:
- Expanding eligibility criteria to include parochial, private and homeschool students. This brings the estimated total number of eligible families to nearly 2.6 million.
- Creating a convenient online application request form available through InternetEssentials.com to improve and accelerate the application process. The online form makes it easier and faster than ever before to register. This spring, families will be able to use computers at community centers, local libraries or from a friend to request an application online.
- Introducing Opportunity Cards that enable non-profit organizations and others to pre-purchase Internet Essentials service in advance, for up to one year, for low-income families. This provides yet another way to accelerate enrollment by empowering community-based partners, businesses and foundations to help connect families to the Internet.
- Expanding low-cost computer options by offering customers the ability to purchase an Internet-ready desktop or laptop for less than $150, in addition to the netbooks that Comcast already offers. This partnership with Arrow (formerly Redemtech) was announced in the fall of 2012 and will be piloted in Philadelphia and Chicago before rolling out to other markets.
- Honoring the top 15 performing school districts with the Internet Essentials Gold Medal School District of Excellence Award to recognize the success of school districts nationwide and acknowledge their important role in helping to close the digital divide. In conjunction with the celebration of Comcast’s 50th anniversary later this year, each recognized district will be given 50 laptops for families or schools. Winners will be announced in the fall of 2013.
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. Eligible families must have at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program, including public, parochial, private, and homeschool students. We estimate a total of approximately 2.6 million eligible families live in our service area and therefore could apply for Internet Essentials. Comcast will sign up eligible families in the program through the end of the 2013-2014 school year. These households will remain eligible as long as one child eligible for a free or reduced lunch remains living in the household. For general information about Internet Essentials, visit www.internetessentials.com for English, and visit www.internetbasico.com for Spanish. Educators or third-parties interested in helping to spread the word can find more information at www.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 Cable
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. Comcast has invested in technology to build an advanced network that delivers among the fastest broadband speeds, and brings customers personalized video, communications and home management offerings. Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is a global media and technology company. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.
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