PHILADELPHIA — Comcast announced this week it is expanding its 10-year-old Internet Essentials program that helps low-income families access the internet through low-cost services.
The new Internet Essentials Partnership Program for cities, schools and nonprofits will connect large numbers of low-income kindergarten through 12th-grade students to the internet at home, the company said.
“We’ve seen firsthand that low-cost internet access is an important part of improving digital equity and creating positive opportunities for low-income students and families,” said Dana Strong, president of Xfinity Consumer Services. “Through this new partnership program, we are accelerating the efforts of cities, schools, philanthropies, nonprofits and private citizens to collaborate and open the doors of internet access for more families in need.”
The partnership program was rolled out to help customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, which closed schools around the country in the spring.
As students transitioned to remote learning, New Jersey education officials estimated about 230,000 students were without the technology or connectivity to the internet. The state recently announced a $60 million program to help bridge the so-called “digital divide” by offering grants to districts for devices such as laptops and tablets, as well as internet hot spots.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Internet Essentials Partnership Program has collaborated with more than 70 schools across the country including in Chicago, Atlanta, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Portland and Arlington, Virginia, the company said. The program relies on public-private partnerships and enables entire communities to work together to coordinate funding to help connect kindergarten through 12th-grade students.
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