Super Bowl-winning former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, Tony Dungy, has had a big impact both on and off the football field throughout his life and career. An inspiration and mentor to youth across the United States, Coach Dungy also leads the Dungy Family Foundation in Tampa, FL, which believes in strengthening, sustaining and empowering communities by providing opportunities to those in need, and he became the national spokesperson for Comcast’s Internet Essentials program last year.
Q: Coach Dungy, tell us about the Internet Essentials program and why you’ve gotten involved?
A: Internet Essentials is an incredible initiative launched three years ago by Comcast to help make a difference for America’s low-income families. It’s a program that can have a game-changing impact on education and the lives of young people. It really levels the playing field for those that might not have the opportunities they deserve just because they never had access to the tools and resources that drive success in today’s technologically advanced world.
Q: How do the goals of Internet Essentials intersect with the work of the Dungy Family Foundation?
A: The Dungy Family Foundation’s mission is to strengthen, sustain and empower communities by providing opportunities to those in need, especially in the realm of education. For instance, we recently launched a reading program because we believe that good reading skills are crucial to success in life and must be stimulated at an early age. Internet Essentials fits perfectly with the values of the Foundation because it has the ability to strengthen, sustain and empower those who need it most through affordable access to the Internet, low-cost computers and digital literacy training.
Q: What does being involved in a program like this mean to you?
A: Last year I met numerous families who told me how Internet Essentials changed the entire educational landscape for their children at home. The program made it so that their kids could advance their learning by studying online, submitting homework assignments online, staying connected to family online, and in a few instances allowed first generation family members to apply for and go through the acceptance process for college entirely online. For a family that cannot currently afford broadband Internet at-home, Internet Essentials can mean a much, much brighter future. I can’t wait to be a part of year three of this program and meet more families that are creating success stories for themselves as a result of Internet Essentials. Along with our Foundation, I’ll be participating in several back to school events this year, with the first in Philadelphia on September 30.
Q: Why is bridging the digital divide in America so critical?
A: Technology has changed not just how classrooms work, but how the whole world works. Whether searching for a job, applying for colleges, researching healthcare information, finding financial resources, or staying connected to family or friends, it’s a must. Access to the Internet is a game-changer in nearly every aspect of life, and I believe we must all do our part to ensure every student has this access. Comcast has stepped up and I am proud to stand with them in doing so.