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Internet Essentials

Helping Low-Income Students Start School on the Right Foot

With over 350,000 families already participating in Internet Essentials, the broadband adoption program aims to grow during the new school year.

Charisse Lillie, Vice President of Community Investment for Comcast and President of the Comcast Foundation, spoke with Philadelphia Tribune staff writer Ayana Jones for a profile of the program published in August. Jones noted a recent study from Pew Research that reported only a 64 percent broadband adoption rate among African-American households, compared to the 74 percent of white households that receive broadband Internet at home.

"This is a problem because schools more and more are getting into digital education and kids need to have access to the Internet at home in order to do their homework, to be connected to school and to be connected to research. It is just a huge issue particularly within the African-American community," Lillie said.

"The big concern that we have is because of this digital divide, when our children are going to school, they are starting out behind if they don’t have access to that information at home and it’s hard for them to catch up."

Lillie detailed plans to spread the word about Internet Essentials over the coming months by focusing on schools where 100 percent of students automatically qualify for the program. In addition, a nationwide public service announcement campaign will alert television viewers to an offer that extends six months of complimentary service to qualifying subscribers.

Lillie also remarked that families who may not have qualified for the program in previous years because of past due cable bills should check their eligibility again. "We know that there are going to be people who have had problems paying their bill and we want to open the program up to them. We will offer them amnesty for the purpose of hooking them up to Internet Essentials, as long as they meet all of the other eligibility criteria," Lillie said.

The full article appears on the Philadelphia Tribune website.