Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago President and CEO Wendy DuBoe, along with civic and community leaders, today kicked off the third year of the Comcast Internet Essentials program. Through this program, the number of low-income Chicago families who now have broadband connection at home doubled to 14,000 as part of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption initiative for low-income families. The partnership also established “Internet Essentials Learning Zones,” which brings community based organizations together to eliminate the digital divide.
“Last August, I challenged Comcast to double the number of families enrolled in Internet Essentials in the city,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I’m proud to say that working together with Chicago Public Schools, libraries, numerous community- and faith-based organizations and others, we have reached our set goal. I am committed to closing the digital divide and improving digital literacy of Chicago’s workforce and youth.”
This year, the City of Chicago and Comcast, in partnership with the United Way and more than a dozen leading community-based organizations, will launch the first “Internet Essentials Learning Zones” in the nation. The zones will incorporate neighborhoods with large concentrations of Internet Essentials-eligible families surrounding five newly-designated Chicago Public Schools “welcoming” schools (Bronzeville/Mayo Elementary; Englewood and West Englewood/Bass Elementary and Nicholson Elementary; and North Lawndale/Hughes Elementary and Johnson Elementary).
Internet Essentials helps close the digital divide by providing eligible families low-cost broadband service for $9.95 a month. Families also can purchase an Internet-ready computer for less than $150 and access digital literacy training sessions and materials online, in print and in person.The momentum of Internet Essentials continues to increase. In the first 22 months of the program, Internet Essentials enrolled upwards of 50,000 new families every six months. In the first six months of 2013, 70,000 new families signed up. In addition, Comcast has distributed more than 18,000 subsidized computers; trained nearly 20,000 people; publicized the program in more than 4,000 school districts and more than 30,000 schools; broadcast nearly 2 million public service announcements and partnered with nearly 7,000 community based organizations, agencies, and officials – about 1,900 alone here in Comcast’s Greater Chicago Region – to help spread the word about the program.