Lift Zones provide safe spaces where students and families can access the Internet for school and digital skills building
July 26, 2021 – Comcast announced a cluster of new WiFi-connected “Lift Zones” at community centers that serve largely Hispanic populations in several Chicago neighborhoods. Lift Zones are safe spaces where students and families can get online for distance learning, to do homework, to learn new digital skills and to search for employment. The new Lift Zones are located at:
- Casa Central in Humboldt Park;
- Centro Romero in East Rogers Park;
- Claretian Associates in South Chicago;
- Instituto del Progreso Latino in Little Village;
- National Latino Education Institute in McKinley Park;
- Poder Works in Chicago Lawn; and
- The Resurrection Project in Pilsen.
The cluster also includes a Lift Zone at Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council (BYNC) that launched in fall 2020.
The COVID-19 crisis put many low-income students and families at risk of being left behind and 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 worked 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, are another resource for community-based learning. 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.
“The pandemic amplified the digital divide and showed how important Internet access is for school, work and building digital skills,” said Cook County 7th District Commissioner Alma Anaya. “Access to the Internet in community centers where students gather after school will help close the homework gap and give them more robust learning day.”
“Part of our mission is to help prepare the youth we serve to enter the workforce, and education is the key,” said Craig Chico, President and Chief Executive Officer of BYNC, which serves several southwest side neighborhoods in addition to Back of the Yards. “During the school year, the Lift Zones did what they were supposed to – they made a major difference to students who come in that have no other way of gaining access to the Internet to learn.”
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 10 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 low-income households. Locally, Chicago Public Schools, through Chicago Connected, the Housing Authority of Cook County, School District U-46 in Chicago’s northwest suburbs and more than 70 other districts in the region are participating in the IEPP.
“Through Internet Essentials, Comcast has helped thousands of families in Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods 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, stepped up and now continues to offer solutions that further our commitment to communities through the creation of Lift Zones and the Internet Essentials Partnership Program.”
Comcast continues to offer, through the end of 2021, all new Internet Essentials customers two months of free Internet service. 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 the end of 2021. These hotspots are located in public places like small businesses, parks and transportation hubs and are in addition to the Lift Zones.
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 Casa Central
Casa Central transforms lives and offers community support, with a special focus on Hispanics. Its network of social services propels children and youth, individuals and families, and seniors toward self-sufficiency and a higher quality of life.
About Centro Romero
For more than 35 year, Centro Romero has helped members of the immigrant and refugee community achieve self-sufficiency.
About the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council
The BYNC’s mission is to enhance the general welfare of all residents, organizations and businesses in its service area. Integrating social service and economic development programs into a single community-based intermediary organization, BYNC takes a holistic approach to addressing the social problems that have plagued the Back of the Yards neighborhood and surrounding communities.
About Claretian Associates
Claretian Associates provides affordable housing and vital services that benefit the safety and wellbeing of residents and families.
About Instituto del Progreso Latino
Instituto del Progreso Latino’s mission is to contribute to the fullest development of Latino immigrants and their families through education, training and employment that fosters full participation in the changing US society, while preserving cultural identity and dignity.
About National Latino Education Institute
The National Latino Education Institute advances our community’s economic independence through market and results driven education, training, employment, and advocacy.
About Poder Works
PODER empowers individuals with the necessary academic tools to promote human dignity, increase employment potential and facilitate participation in the larger community.
About The Resurrection Project
The Resurrection Project provides services that stabilize and protect families, by helping them acquire assets and improve their financial health, and by mobilizing them to advocate for long-lasting, positive change.
About Comcast Corporation
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company with three primary businesses: Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal, and Sky. Comcast Cable is one of the United States’ largest video, high-speed Internet, and phone providers to residential customers under the Xfinity brand, and also provides these services to businesses. It also provides wireless and security and automation services to residential customers under the Xfinity brand. NBCUniversal is global and operates 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. Sky is one of Europe’s leading media and entertainment companies, connecting customers to a broad range of video content through its pay television services. It also provides communications services, including residential high-speed Internet, phone, and wireless services. Sky operates the Sky News broadcast network and sports and entertainment networks, produces original content, and has exclusive content rights. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.
With nearly 6,000 local employees, Comcast’s Greater Chicago Region
(https://chicago.comcast.com) serves customers in central and northern Illinois, including the Chicago area, northwest Indiana and southwest Michigan. “Like” Comcast’s Greater Chicago Region on Facebook by visiting @Comcast. “Follow” Comcast’s Greater Chicago Region on Twitter at @ComcastIllinois.