06 04 10-One Economy Burlington VT Launch 2.jpg

The last time I blogged about Comcast Digital Connectors was in October, after we held a public launch event at the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans in Houston.

Much has happened since, including a similar launch I attended last week at the Boys & Girls Club in Burlington, VT.

It was wonderful to see so many community leaders, Boys & Girls Club board members, elected officials and Comcast Digital Connectors, who led a tour of their classroom and demonstrated their newly found computer skills. I also was delighted to see Sen. Patrick Leahy and Gov. Jim Douglas, both of whom are long-time advocates of digital literacy.

In partnership with One Economy, we now have 16 sites teaching broadband technologies to more than 300 young people from diverse, low-income backgrounds ages 14-21. In turn, they are reaching out to their families and neighborhoods to share their knowledge.

The outreach aspect of Digital Connectors is critical because, as Pew reports, 92% of American homes have access to broadband, only 63% of Americans have adopted the technology at home. The numbers are worse in some key demographic groups. For example:

  • While 85% of Americans with incomes above $75,000 have broadband and 83% of college graduates do, only about 52% of high school graduates have broadband at home.
  • English Speaking Hispanics have greater broadband adoption than Whites by 68% to 65%, but only 46% of African Americans have adopted broadband.
  • The slowest adopting population continues to be senior citizens - only 30% with Broadband so far.
  • Finally, having kids in the home is one of the strongest factors influencing broadband adoption - 77% of homes with children have broadband.

That last bullet point is a key reason why Comcast's partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs is so special.

In addition to Burlington, the Comcast Digital Connectors programs are operating in Boys & Girls Clubs in Morgantown, WV, and Atlanta. More are planned, including a Fall launch with the Boys & Girls Club of Hartford.

By connecting these young people and their communities to the digital economy, it gets to the heart of the problem. And most importantly, offers the prospect of a much brighter future.

As Gov. Douglas said to all in attendance, "Our next generation needs the technological skills and knowledge to not only compete for jobs globally, but to also strengthen our communities through service locally. I thank Comcast and One Economy for working together to advance this program that will help provide young Vermonters with the tools to do both."

Digital Connector Miles Tanner put it best when he said, "I joined this program so I can get a way better look at technology and computers and stuff like that, because I don't have one at home and this is very helpful. This will definitely help me with my school work and various other activities."

We at Comcast are particularly excited about the Digital Connectors program because it represents all of our core community investment priorities rolled into one great program. It promotes community service, expands digital literacy, and builds tomorrow's leaders in many of the diverse communities we serve.

By the end of 2010, the Comcast Digital Connectors program will operate in more than 30 cities across America. Together with One Economy, we're excited about what's ahead for the terrific young people in this program.

Pictured (left to right): David L. Cohen, Executive Vice President, Comcast Corporation, Mary Alice McKenzie, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Burlington and U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy.