Internet Essentials Learning Zones: Creating a Continuum of Connectivity
Students know better than anyone that the Internet is a crucial tool in today’s world, especially when it comes to doing homework. Today, Comcast hosted an event at the Towanda Community Center in Baltimore to announce Maryland’s first Internet Essentials Learning Zone. The Learning Zone, designed to support students by bringing the Internet to community centers, computer labs, after school programs, and home creates a continuum of connectivity that can last all day long.
Unfortunately, a disproportionately large number of low-income students are not connected to the Internet at home and therefore lack the means to compete with their peers on a level playing field. Pew Research reported earlier this year that the broadband adoption rate for households with school-age children that make less than $25,000 a year was only 60 percent, while it was 97 percent for households with school-age children making more than $150,000 a year.
We also know from research that the only concrete way to increase broadband adoption and utilization is through participation by institutions such as libraries, banks, government agencies, and employers. Every community needs a cohesive network of support to get there. Through these Learning Zones, Comcast supports a network of partners who work closely together to ensure that the students are connected to the Internet in and out of the classroom.
At the event, Comcast Corporation Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer David L. Cohen announced Comcast is providing Wi-Fi hotspots and access to digital literacy programs and training through 12 community partner organizations in 16 locations. He also announced $75,000 in digital literacy grants to the Family League of Baltimore and the 12 participating partner organizations in 16 community center locations that will collaborate to help bridge the digital divide across the City.
Additionally, the company awarded 35 computers and six months of free Internet service through Internet Essentials to 35 elementary students attending the event from Creative City Charter School. Comcast also highlighted that since 2011, Internet Essentials has connected more than 500,000 families, or 2 million low-income Americans, to the power of the Internet at home. The company has also invested more than $240 million in cash and in-kind support to fund digital literacy initiatives, reaching nearly 3.2 million people through our national local non-profit community partners.
The Baltimore Internet Essentials Learning Zone is just one of many Learning Zones across the country. In the spring of 2014, Comcast introduced its first Internet Essentials Learning Zones by making more than $1 million in grants to non-profit organizations whose school districts had made the most progress to close the digital divide in communities from Washington, California, Colorado, and Texas to Illinois, Minnesota, Georgia, and Florida.