When a new year begins, we often make resolutions to improve and evolve. At Comcast NBCUniversal, this means aspiring to make lives better for our customers and the community each and every day. The role we play in Community Investment reminds me of that of an orchestra conductor, which has been eloquently described by Boston Philharmonic’s Benjamin Zander: "The conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound. He depends, for his power, on his ability to make other people powerful."
Empowerment is a driving force behind the work we do. We encourage our 139,000 Comcast NBCUniversal employees to explore their passions and give back to their communities. We collaborate with thousands of nonprofit partners each year to meet the many needs among diverse populations. We invest in programs that transform neighborhoods and help individuals pursue better lives. When each of these elements comes together, that’s when the true impact happens.
When I think about some of our 2015 standouts, I think about our own Harry Behrens. FORTUNE named Harry to its annual list of Heroes of the 500, recognizing his leadership of a nonprofit organization that provides his New Jersey neighbors in need with healthy produce – all while juggling his full-time job as a Comcast network engineer. On Comcast Cares Day 2015, we boosted Harry’s efforts to provide healthy meals to people in need by improving and expanding the farm. We look forward to making change happen once again during our 15th annual Comcast Cares Day on April 30, 2016 – and hope you will join us.
I also think about Emmanuel, a middle school student who belongs to the Little Village Boys & Girls Club in Chicago, one of the early adopters of our new My.Future technology initiative with Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Through his participation in the program, which marked its first anniversary in November, Emmanuel learned there is more to technology than Facebook and selfies. This program is opening his eyes to a new world of possibilities.
I think about the tremendous impact of the Comcast Foundation in the past 15 years, awarding more than $170 million to thousands of nonprofit organizations that also support expanding digital literacy, building tomorrow’s leaders, and promoting service. These financial investments, coupled with additional support such as employee volunteerism, board leadership, donated airtime for public service announcements, and other resources, expand capacity at these organizations to do what they do best – serve the local needs of our shared communities.
Lastly, I think about the many ways we keep a laser focus on our top priority: attacking the digital divide. We surpassed connecting more than 500,000 households to Internet Essentials, benefitting more than 2 million low-income Americans. We also announced pilot expansions to bring Internet Essentials to community college students and senior citizens. We are partnering with organizations like The Arc and Easter Seals to make technology accessible to people with disabilities. We are integrating digital literacy training and outreach in nearly every touchpoint we have to close the gap.
We hope through this issue of Inside CI to give you a closer look at the people and partners that made this work possible in 2015 and will continue to carry the torch as we look forward.
Charisse R. Lillie
Vice President, Community Investment, Comcast Corporation
President, Comcast Foundation