Comcast, State and Local Government and Urban League Bridge Digital Divide with Expanded Internet Essentials Program
More Than 12,000 Florida Families Now Enjoying the Internet's Educational Benefits Through Comprehensive Program Offering Computers, Training and Low-Cost Access
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Democratic Leader and Florida State Senator, Chris Smith; Urban League of Broward County President and CEO, Dr. Germaine Smith-Baugh, and Comcast's Vice President of Community Investment and President of the Comcast Foundation, Charisse Lillie, today announced the second year of the Internet Essentials effort in Florida. Internet Essentials is an ambitious and comprehensive broadband adoption program designed to help close the digital divide for low-income Americans. In its first full year of availability in Comcast markets across the country, more than 100,000 families, or 400,000 Americans, are now online. More than 12,000 families in Florida are among those participating nationally, making Florida one of the most successful regions in the program's first year.
"We all want all Florida students to become more digitally literate so they can enhance their education and utilize everything the Internet has to offer. However, there are still too many low-income families throughout our State who are not currently participating in the digital world," said Senator Chris Smith. "Initiatives like Internet Essentials will help our students reach their full potential so that they will be prepared to compete in a 21st century economy, but we still have much work to do. So, I'm urging parents, educators, community leaders and other government officials to keep spreading the word about this effort, so we can continue to increase broadband adoption in our State."
Charisse Lillie, Comcast's Vice President of Community Investment and President of the Comcast Foundation added, "I'd like to thank the school administrators across the State and all public officials in Florida for having made the Internet Essentials program such a resounding success. Leaders in Florida are making a tangible difference in the lives of students and their families who are now able to go online at home and access the endless resources the Internet has to offer."
In year two, Comcast is enhancing the program to expand and accelerate enrollment, to increase digital literacy, and make the broadband service faster and safer for Internet Essentials families.
New in 2012:
More inclusive eligibility, more community outreach and faster approval; whereas eligibility criteria previously included families with children who qualified for free lunches under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), now families with children eligible to receive reduced-price lunches are also able to participate. This means nearly 300,000 additional households, nationally, are now eligible for the program, bringing the total to 2.3 million eligible families.
Additionally, there is now an instant approval process for all students who attend schools with the highest percentage of NSLP participation, which includes Provision 2 Schools;
And, a new bulk order program is in place to empower community-based organizations to purchase Internet Essentials accounts so they can connect the eligible families they serve at no cost to the family, completely removing the cost barriers around connectivity; 100 Urban League Broward County families will receive free computers and service through the new Bulk order program. Families will be selected from Urban League Broward County programs, including youth and education programs funded through the Children's Services Council of Broward County.
Faster and Safer Internet Access; Comcast has doubled the broadband speeds of the Internet Essentials program, now up to 3 Mbps downstream and up to 768 Kbps upstream, and the company has upgraded the free Internet safety software to include the Constant Guard Protection Suite, which includes top-rated Norton Security Suite, identity theft protection and more;
Enriched digital literacy training; online, in print and in-person training includes a series of short videos featuring NBC and Telemundo news personalities Al Roker, Kate Snow, Jenna Wolfe and Jose Diaz-Balart discussing how to use job search tools and social networking sites as well as tips for what parents should know about cyber bullying.
"Comcast continues to distinguish itself as a steadfast community partner and friend to the Urban League," said Germaine Smith-Baugh, President and CEO of the Urban League of Broward County. "I share their belief that digital literacy and access to the Internet are foundational to education, and I admire their dedication to uplifting more families through the Internet Essentials program by both expanding eligibility and devising the new Bulk order program which invites like-minded community partners such as the Children's Services Council to participate."
Internet Essentials Program Details:
Internet Essentials addresses three primary barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified - a lack of understanding of how the Internet is relevant and useful, the cost of a home computer and the cost of the Internet service. Program participants receive:
Residential Internet service for $9.95 a month plus applicable taxes; No price increases, no activation fees, or equipment rental fees;
A voucher to purchase a low-cost computer for $149.99 plus tax; and
Access to free digital literacy training in print, online and in-person.
A household is eligible to participate if it meets all of the following criteria:
Is located where Comcast offers Internet service;
Has at least one child who is eligible to receive a free or reduced school lunch under the NSLP;
Has not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days and does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment.
Comcast will sign up eligible families in the program at least through the end of the 2013-2014 school year. Any household that qualifies during this period will remain eligible for Internet Essentials if at least one child eligible for a free or reduced lunch remains living in the household.
In Florida, Comcast is working with a growing network of school districts, city government and community-based organizations to spread the word about Internet Essentials and provide digital literacy training. The following organizations helped Comcast to achieve success with Internet Essentials in the first year:
In Miami-Dade County:
Miami Dade Public Schools
Miami Dade League of Cities
South Florida Work Force
City of Miami Gardens
City of Hialeah
Archdiocese of Miami
Miami Dade Broadband Coalition
Miami Dade College
The Children's Trust
Amigos For Kids
Liberty City Trust
Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami Dade County
Cuban National Council (CNC)
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami
YMCA of Greater Miami
In Broward County:
Broward County Public Schools,
Urban League of Broward County,
Boys & Girls Club of Broward County,
Children's Services Council of Broward County,
Broward County Public Libraries,
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County,
Take Stock in Children
Hispanic Unity of Florida
Junior Achievement of South Florida
In Palm Beach County:
School District of Palm Beach County
Urban League of Palm Beach County
Community Back to School Bash
Palm Beach County League of Cities
United Way of Palm Beach County
Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County
In North Florida:
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida
Boys & Girls Clubs of Tabula Rasa
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Big Bend
Boys Town of North Florida
Capital Region YMCA
Columbia County School District
Distinguished Young Gentlemen of Florida
Duval County School District
Gadsden County Healthy Start Coalition
Gadsden County Public Library
Healthy Start Coalition of Jefferson, Madison and Taylor Counties
Helping Hands Neighborhood Network Center
Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce
Leon County School District
MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation
Tallahassee Urban League
Taylor County School District
The Bridge of Northeast Florida
The Early Learning Coalition of the Big Bend Region
United Way of the Big Bend
Wakulla County Chamber of Commerce
Wakulla County Coalition for Youth
Whole Child Leon
In Southwest Florida:
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast
Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Florida
Collier County School District
Heartland Educational Consortium
Local multimedia assets from the Florida Internet Essentials news conference are available at cie.comcastsouthflorida.com. For general information about Internet Essentials, please visit www.internetessentials.com for English and visit www.internetbasico.com for Spanish. Educators or third-parties interested in the Bulk program or 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 Corporation:
Comcast Corporation (NAS: CMCSA) (NAS: CMCSK) (www.comcast.com) is one of the nation's leading providers of entertainment, information and communications products and services. Comcast is principally involved in the operation of cable systems through Comcast Cable and in the development, production and distribution of entertainment, news, sports and other content for global audiences through NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential and business customers. Comcast is the majority owner and manager of NBCUniversal, which owns and operates entertainment and news cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, local television station groups, television production operations, a major motion picture company and theme parks.
KEYWORDS: United States North America Florida
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