In 2020, Comcast launched Lift Zones, an extension of the company’s Project UP $1 billion digital equity initiative, to help community centers navigate online learning with Internet access and digital resources. Lift Zones are WiFi-connected spaces in community centers where people can learn digital skills and pursue academic, professional, and personal advancement. Comcast has partnered with nonprofits and city leaders across the country to launch more than 1,250 WiFi-connected Lift Zones, including more than 90 in this region alone.
One such partner is the Kishwaukee Family YMCA in Sycamore, Illinois. Since its launch in June 2021, the Lift Zone at Kishwaukee Family YMCA has supported members by offering a diverse range of programs focused on school success, economic opportunity, and civic engagement.
“Access to the Internet and digital skills are critical as our world becomes more digital,” said Joan Sage, Comcast Government and Regulatory Affairs Manager. “Comcast provides free Internet connectivity and digital skills development for students and adults alike through our Lift Zone initiative, opening up a world of unlimited possibilities by collaborating with valued and trusted partners in DeKalb County and throughout Illinois.”
“Here at the Y, we don’t turn anybody away for financial reasons, so the Lift Zone was a perfect fit for us to help lower-income families and people who don’t have access to computers at home. It’s made life easier for them,” said Kishwaukee Family YMCA CEO Brian Bickner. “The biggest impact we’ve seen is for the kids during the summer months. I know that these kids have computers at school, but it helps them keep and advance their skills with year-round access to the Internet and computers all summer long.”
Additionally, Lift Zones are a resource for adults to use to learn new digital skills, search for jobs and access an array of services.
“Parents utilize the Lift Zone too. They can come with their kids and utilize our computers, Internet, and get assistance, such as help filling out online forms,” added Bickner. “Thanks to this initiative, we have conducted numerous training sessions, leveraging the Lift Zone’s technology and connectivity for the entire community.”
Continued Partnership in DeKalb County
In December 2022, Comcast reconfirmed its commitment to advancing digital equity in DeKalb County with a $5,000 donation to the Kishwaukee Family YMCA to further its digital skills training opportunities at its Lift Zone. In addition, Comcast donated new laptops to the organization.
“Last year, we identified 20 families that didn’t have computers at home and with Comcast’s help, we could give them laptops. After donating the computers, families thanked me and told me how life-changing it was to have a laptop of their own. That was such a memorable moment,” said Bickner.
The Lift Zones complement Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, which is a low-cost Internet adoption program for low-income families. Internet Essentials has helped more than 10 million people in America – 1.9 million in Illinois – connect to the Internet at home since it launched in 2011.
Additionally, households may enroll in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides eligible low-income households a credit up to $30 a month toward the cost of Internet and/or mobile phone services, including all of Comcast’s Xfinity Internet and Xfinity Mobile plans, as well as Internet Essentials. For more information, visit www.xfinity.com/acp.
With reliable Internet access and technology, the Kishwaukee Family YMCA continues to empower individuals with knowledge and open new avenues for growth and success.
Learn more about Kishwaukee Family YMCA at https://kishymca.org/. For more information about Comcast’s commitment to closing the digital divide, including finding your nearest Lift Zone, please visit: https://corporate.comcast.com/impact/digital-equity/lift-zones