Many more low-income residents can now access the social and economic possibilities the Internet provides following the largest eligibility expansion of Comcast’s Internet Essentials service in Washington state.
The nation’s largest, most comprehensive and most successful low-income broadband adoption initiative is now available to double the number of eligible low-income households, including those with people with disabilities and seniors, David L. Cohen, Comcast’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, said in announcing the expanded initiative.
Internet Essentials has connected more than 8 million low-income Americans to the Internet at home since 2011 – including nearly 340,000 residents across the state of Washington, and more than 54,000 households and 216,000 individuals here in the Puget Sound.
“This expansion is the culmination of an audacious goal we set eight years ago, which was to meaningfully and significantly close the digital divide for low-income Americans,” Cohen says.
The importance of that access is hugely significant.
“The Internet is arguably the most important technological innovation in history, and it’s unacceptable that we live in a country where millions of families and individuals are missing out on this life-changing resource,” Cohen says. “Whether the Internet is used for students to do their homework, adults to look for and apply for new jobs, seniors to keep in touch with friends and family, or Veterans to access their well-deserved benefits or medical assistance, it is absolutely essential to be connected in our modern, digital age.”
Joining Cohen at the statewide expansion event on Oct. 4 was U.S. Paralympic Gold Medalist and Purple Heart Recipient Rico Roman, who helped unveil a new state-of-the-art interactive digital classroom through Goodwill. This special computer lab will support digital literacy training for low-income individuals and people with disabilities, helping address the major barrier to broadband adoption – a lack of digital skills.
Most of Goodwill’s program participants have some level of disability, are low-income, and many served in the military. The new digital classroom’s assistive technology addresses different needs, including adjustable tables and interactive learning and digital tools. Comcast also presented a grant to the organization and surprised Goodwill program participants with 50 laptops and six months of complimentary Internet Essentials service.
“Being able to see the faces of the kids and knowing what it will bring them in the future, the doors it will unlock, it’s a humbling thing to be a part of,” Roman says.
Comcast has partnered with thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials and nonprofit community partners to help build this program, and Internet Essentials’ integrated, wrap-around design addresses each of the three major barriers to broadband adoption:
- lack of digital literacy skills, lack of awareness of the relevance of the Internet to everyday life needs, and fear of the Internet;
- the lack of a computer;
- and cost of internet service.
“Every year we try to make this program better than it was before,” Cohen says.
For more information, or to apply for the program in seven different languages, please visit internetessentials.com or call 1-855-846-8376. Spanish-only speakers can also call 1-855-765-6995.