As senior development officer at Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake, Machelle Lake helps raise funds to facilitate programming for the nearly 6,500 youth served by the organization, 78% of whom come from low-income homes. 

In May 2021, when Comcast announced plans to create 35 WiFi-connected safe spaces called “Lift Zones,” in community centers throughout Utah, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake City were the first to raise their hands. The organization was thrilled to partner with Comcast to help their 1,200 attendees per day connect to the Internet for schoolwork, homework, and other educational opportunities.

“Having Comcast as a partner for our Boys and Girls Clubs has been fantastic,” Machelle, whose own children have been active club members for over a decade, said. “Comcast’s Internet Essentials was the first one to provide us a computer lab for our club kids—a dedicated space that had Internet access and devices where the kids could come in and do homework, and then start learning computer skills. They have, over the years, provided devices, technology, and funding for computer labs at many of our locations. And recently, [Comcast] making our club sites Lift Zones, and providing that expanded bandwidth for our kids as well as for the community, has made all the difference.” 

Ten years ago, Machelle was unemployed and struggled to afford the Internet at home. When she heard about Internet Essentials from Comcast, the Company’s newly launched (at the time) broadband adoption program for low-income households, she quickly signed up.

“With kids in junior high and elementary school, and [me] looking for a job, we would go to coffee shops, the library, and try to find other places to access the Internet,” she said. 

Signing up for Internet Essentials in 2011 allowed Machelle to search for new work opportunities, eventually leading to her current work at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake. Internet Essentials also enabled her children to thrive academically and seek scholarships. The longstanding partnership between Comcast and Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake has also benefited the club’s kids, by supporting their digital skills and connectivity needs, allowing them to fully participate in their education.

“Nowadays, the Internet is critical,” she said. “It's kind of funny—you don't think about it, but when you don't have it, [you realize] how much you rely on it. If a kid doesn't have access to the Internet at home, they're not going to be able to access their school assignments.

“And as the libraries and coffee shops closed during the pandemic, it became even more critical that [Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake] have stable Internet access and enough broadband for many kids to be on their devices at the same time. Internet Essentials and Lift Zones really bridged that digital divide, because while not all of our kids could get that access at home with the Internet, they were able to get it here at the club because of Comcast.”