Coming Together to Strengthen a Neighborhood
In Chicago’s Humboldt Park, Association House of Chicago is one of those places, and Comcast has long been a steadfast supporter.
A key provider of educational, health and other community services for its low-income neighbors, Association House first came to our attention 11 years ago as one of our company’s early partners on Comcast Cares Day. Today, it has evolved into one of our strongest regional partners, and is a true reflection of Comcast’s holistic approach to strengthening communities. It is also an affiliate of National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.
These days, with Comcast focused on expanding broadband opportunities to help close the digital divide, we are working together to grow the technology skills of under-employed adults who live near Association House. With 60 percent of nearby residents lacking broadband access, the Comcast Foundation in 2011 awarded Association House a three-year, $45,000 grant to enhance and maintain its Technology Center.
"With Comcast’s support, we’re able to meet the community’s immediate needs, as well as long-term personal, educational, and employment goals," said Harriet Sadauskas, president of Association House.
Association House has since extended its lab hours to offer Saturday classes, and plans to offer evening hours in 2014. Nearly 300 area residents now access the lab regularly, and another 50 are taking classes on basic computer training, workforce development and more. Comcast also assists Association House in covering the $115 exam fee for Microsoft Office certification, and in 2012, 100 people earned their certification and developed the technology skills required for many professional positions. Association House was also able to upgrade its equipment, installing eight new computers and refurbishing 20 pre-owned machines since 2011.
The need for technology skills continues to be vital. For example, starting this year, the GED will be administered exclusively as a computer-based exam, leaving those without basic computer skills unprepared or unable to take the test and earn the equivalent of a high school diploma. "Our saving grace has been the strength of our Tech Center," said Stephen Pigozzi, AmeriCorps & Technology Center Supervisor. "We’re able to host GED readiness classes alongside computer basics to make sure our students have the tools they need to succeed."
One of those students is Yesenia. With her unemployment benefits about to expire, the single mother and lifelong Humboldt Park resident needed to get back to work, but she didn’t have the digital skill set employers were looking for, let alone the basic computer knowledge to apply for jobs online. After some initial visits to the Technology Center, Yesenia soon became a fixture, visiting almost daily to check her email, fax her resume, and continue to develop the digital abilities she could market to prospective employers. Yesenia was hired in October as an administrative assistant for a real estate company, where she uses the professional and technological skills she learned at Association House’s Technology Center.
Getting people like Yesenia back to work is one of the ways Comcast and Association House are moving Humboldt Park forward.
"Since we first partnered together in 2003, Comcast made it clear that they’re committed to seeing this community succeed," Harriet said. "And together, we’re making a real difference in Humboldt Park."
The Comcast Foundation invests in the communities where our employees live and work, providing our nonprofit partners with the resources they need to make an impact.
The Comcast Foundation has contributed nearly $140 million to date to nonprofit organizations nationwide.
In 2012, the Comcast Foundation awarded $16.2 million in grants to more than 1,000 partners.
Founded in 1999, the Comcast Foundation will celebrate 15 years of giving back this year.
The Comcast Foundation provides matching grants for employee involvement in Comcast Cares Day and our annual United Way campaign. Last year, the Foundation provided a combined $3.3 million in recognition of employee service.