Lift Zones provide safe spaces where students and families can access the Internet for remote learning, digital skills building, job searches and more
December 16, 2020 – Comcast announced six new Lift Zone sites in Chicago today, including:
- Chinese American Service League located in Chinatown;
- Fuller Park Community Development located in Fuller Park;
- Hope Technology and Education Center located in West Englewood;
- The K.L.E.O Community Family Life Center located in Washington Park;
- Phalanx Family Services located in West Pullman; and
- Westside Justice Center located in East Garfield Park.
Lift Zones are WiFi-enabled safe spaces in community organizations across the city where students and families can get online for remote learning, to learn new skills or to search for employment. In September, Comcast announced the Lift Zone program and the first Chicago Lift Zone sites at the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council (Back of the Yards), Bright Star Community Outreach (Bronzeville), Broader Urban Involvement & Leadership Development (BUILD) (Austin) and the Chatham Business Association (Chatham).
The COVID-19 crisis has put a lot of low-income students and families at risk of being left behind and has accelerated the need for comprehensive digital equity and Internet adoption programs to support them. Through Chicago Connected and in partnership with Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, Chicago Public Schools and dozens of community-based organizations, Comcast is already working to bring the Internet into thousands of additional homes to ease the challenges of distance learning and remote work. Lift Zones, which are designed to provide additional connectivity in Chicago’s neighborhoods and other locations across the country, are another resource for community-based learning and skill building. As part of the Lift Zones program, Comcast also plans to provide access to hundreds of hours of educational and digital skills content to help families and staff onsite navigate online learning.
“For kids in the 28th ward, Internet connectivity outside the home at places where they can safely gather indoors can be just as essential for participation in school as it is to have connectivity at home. For adults, it’s the key to building digital and other work skills, and for job searches,” said Chicago 28th Ward Alderman Jason C. Ervin. The 28th Ward includes parts of Austin, Douglas Park, East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park, the Illinois Medical District and University Village. “The digital divide is real, and Lift Zones will help narrow the connectivity gap across the neighborhoods in our ward.”
“Part of the Westside Justice Center’s mission is to help our clients and the communities we serve gain access to systems of justice,” said Tanya Woods, Esq., Westside Justice Center Executive Director. “The Lift Zone will help our clients interact more easily with the civil justice system and identify and access information and legal resources that can help them.”
The Chicago Lift Zones are part of a larger multiyear plan by Comcast to support community-organization based WiFi locally and launch more than 1,000 Lift Zones throughout the country. The Lift Zones are an extension of the company’s longstanding commitment to help connect low-income families to the Internet and provide resources to help them take advantage of educational opportunities and the digital economy. The Lift Zones complement Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, a low-cost Internet adoption program for low-income families, which has helped connect more than 8 million people to the Internet at home since it was launched in 2011. Lift Zones also extend the Internet Essentials Partnership Program (IEPP), through which Comcast partners with school districts, housing authorities and other organizations to provide Internet service at home to eligible households at no cost to them. Locally, Chicago Public Schools, through Chicago Connected, the Housing Authority of Cook County, School District U-46 in Chicago’s northwest suburbs and numerous other school districts are participating in the IEPP.
“Through Internet Essentials, Comcast has helped thousands of families in Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods and across the region cross the digital divide,” said Matthew Summy, Comcast’s Regional Vice President of External and Government Affairs. “I’m proud that Comcast recognized the impact of the digital divide early on and built a platform that has allowed us to bring important digital equity solutions like Lift Zones to the table in this unprecedented time.”
Comcast reiterated that it will continue to offer, through June 30, 2021, all new Internet Essentials customers two months of free Internet service and it will waive the requirement that customers not have back debt so more families can apply. Comcast also continues to extend free access to its 1.5 million public Xfinity WiFi hotspots to anyone who needs them, including non-customers, through June 30, 2021. These hotspots are located in public places like small businesses, parks and transportation hubs.
Lastly, Comcast’s Internet Essentials program also makes a range of educational resources available online for anyone to access at: www.internetessentials.com/learning. The Learning Portal provides videos and materials about topics like: Internet Basics, Online Safety and Security, Building New Skills, and Getting Things Done. The site also links to a number of free educational websites for students.
About Chinese American Service League
For over 40 years, CASL’s comprehensive programs have connected families and individuals in the Chicago Chinese community and beyond with the vital support they need: providing an educational and cultural foundation for our children, ensuring seniors live full and independent lives with dignity, enhancing education and training for tomorrow’s workforce, putting immigrants on the pathway to citizenship and securing the community’s housing and financial well-being. CASL is located in Chinatown.
About Hope Technology and Education Center
HTEC’s mission is to provide adults and youth with digital literacy training, essential life skills training, health education, and job readiness training programs.
About Fuller Park Community Development
FPCD works to address the housing, education and environmental issues that have kept its communities in poverty, disrepair and illiterate. FPCD exists to equip its residents with information, resources and education that provide them with the tools necessary to help move them out of poverty and live a better quality of life.
About The K.L.E.O Community Family Life Center
KLEO’s mission is to eradicate violence by bringing opportunity to those in need through arts, culture, workforce development and STEM education.
About Phalanx Family Services
Founded in 2003, PFS provides workforce development solutions and strength-based social services to disadvantaged and at-risk population. PFS builds emotionally healthy, self-sufficient families in a community in which they can thrive.
About Westside Justice Center
WJC is dedicated to ensuring that low-income people have access to fair and just criminal justice system in courts and jails.