Pencils, notebooks, uniforms, and backpacks top back-to-school shopping lists across the country. Yet, as families prepare for another year of learning, many are doing so without one of the most important supplies – a home Internet connection to give their children the ability to keep learning even when the school day, or year, is over.
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.
So, it was with excitement that today, at the Madison Park Business & Art Academy in Oakland, California, David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast Corporation, joined Sal Khan, Founder and CEO of Khan Academy, to kick off the school year and celebrate Oakland students with a series of announcements to help bridge the digital divide in the community.
First, Khan Academy recognized the city for the perseverance its students showed while participating in LearnStorm 2015, granting them the first-place award for "hustle." LearnStorm is a math challenge designed to encourage a growth mindset and inspire students to learn. By mastering skills and tackling challenging new concepts, Oakland students earned more "hustle" points than students in any other city in the entire Bay Area.
Second, we recently introduced new eligibility criteria for Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive high-speed Internet adoption program. We expanded our "instant approval" process to all families whose children attend schools where fifty percent or more students participate in the National School Lunch Program. All public schools in Oakland meet this new test. As a result, all public school students in the City of Oakland will be instantly approved when they apply for the program, provided they meet the other eligibility criteria.
To celebrate Oakland’s success in LearnStorm, Comcast will offer six months of complimentary home Internet service to any qualified family in the City of Oakland who has not yet signed up for Internet Essentials and who applies before September 30th. This includes all students in the Oakland Unified School District, plus any students who attend charter, parochial, private and cyber schools, as well as those who are being home schooled.
What’s more, David announced that starting today, and running through September 2nd, Comcast will give away a free laptop to any new Oakland-area family who takes advantage of this special offer and enrolls in and connects to the program.
Twenty students from seven of the participating schools in Oakland attended the event. These students showed grit and determination in the challenge, and in joining us before the school year even started. To reward them for their hard work, each student received a laptop from Comcast on behalf of Internet Essentials.
These students know better than anyone that the Internet at home is a crucial tool in today’s world, especially when it comes to education. It’s our goal to get every student connected to the Internet at school, after school, and at home so they can take advantage of all the Internet has to offer. And, I can think of no better free online resource for students than the potentially life-changing educational resources from Khan Academy.
Khan Academy’s world-class educational content, combined with having a home Internet connection, offers every student a potentially life-changing experience. We are thrilled to continue our multi-year, comprehensive partnership with Khan Academy, which first began in December 2013. We’re both passionate about education, and we both want all kids to have the same opportunities to succeed in school. We look forward to what’s next.
For more information, visit www.InternetEssentials.com.