TODAY Launches 'Tomorrow’s Voices' - Spotlighting Five Incredible Students Who Connected to the Internet & Began To Change the World
This week, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Internet Essentials – the nation’s largest low-cost, high-speed broadband program – and a new and exciting milestone: the connection of more than 10 million low-income Americans to the Internet at home.
We are proud of the scale and reach of the program. But we’re even more proud of the impact it’s enabled us to have on so many people. When you hear the amazing stories of how families and students have used an Internet connection and the power of technology to discover, learn, grow, and be inspired – you can’t help but be inspired yourself.
Today, we’re excited to share the stories of five kids – Ashis, Ummi, Jasmine, Juan, and Betsy – all of whom we met through our efforts to close the digital divide and the homework gap. We introduced them to the team at TODAY, and this week, TODAY premiered ‘Tomorrow’s Voices’ – a TODAY All Day streaming special, hosted by Hoda Kotb – aimed at creating a platform for deserving teens across the country. The segment spotlights these teens who were each given the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to interview one of their heroes and further explore their passions.
We see Ashis team up with entrepreneur and philanthropist Mark Cuban to help Salt Lake City’s homeless community; Academy-Award winner Frank Abney help Ummi animate his children’s book; Jasmine sing a duet with Grammy-Award winning singer-songwriter Jewel; James Beard Award Winning chef Andrew Zimmern give Juan a private cooking class; and Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms challenge 14-year-old Betsy to raise awareness of climate change through her art.
‘Tomorrow’s Voices’ is about these five extraordinary young people. It’s also about access to opportunity and a reminder that everyone deserves to have everything they need to succeed. Because we need more people like Ashis, Ummi, Jasmine, Juan, and Betsy, who are on a mission to not only elevate their own potential – but to elevate the world.
You can watch their stories unfold on TODAY.com or Peacock.
Inspired by them, and stories of countless others, Comcast is committing $1 billion to reach 50 million people from low-income families over the next 10 years. Learn more here.
Hoda Kotb teams up with Ashis, a Nepalese refugee from Salt Lake City. Ashis wants to be an entrepreneur and a philanthropist. Ashis gets to meet his hero, Mark Cuban.
Ashis (17), Salt Lake City, UT – Ashis and his family are refugees from Nepal where he lived in extreme poverty before moving to the U.S. when he was six years old. Inspired by his experiences, Ashis founded a non-profit organization that aims to provide homeless people access to clothing and shoes. Now, in the 12th grade, Ashis is applying to colleges, and says the Internet has been instrumental in helping him complete his applications and find scholarships online. He hopes to one day earn his MBA and grow his non-profit to help impoverished people in third-world countries.
Al Roker chats with Ummi from Berkeley, California. Ummi is an accomplished fencer, budding architect, and storyteller. He travels to Los Angeles to meet Frank Abney, an animator for Disney Pixar’s Soul and executive producer of the Academy Award-winning animated short, Hair Love.
Ummi (16), Berkeley, CA – Ummi hopes to become an architect after being inspired through a local summer internship in which he helped design a community center virtually. He’s been using his time in quarantine to get his architecture portfolio together and apply to colleges. He loves fencing with his younger brother, Jabreel, and has kept up with his practice through online fencing classes. Ummi hopes to inspire kids of all ages to believe they can be anything they want – from architect to pro-fencer and beyond – through the children's illustration book he wrote.
Carson Daly connects with Jasmine, a teen from Philadelphia who has used music to help her cope with ADHD. The young singer and songwriter will collaborate on a song with Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, Jewel.
Jasmine (18), Philadelphia, PA – Jasmine, a recent high school graduate, has a passion for art. She is a painter, portrait photographer, skateboarder, and musician who plays the piano, guitar, and ukulele. Jasmine describes herself as compassionate with a desire to help others, which she has done through the Girl Scouts and volunteering at local homeless shelters. In the future, she hopes to explore careers as a civil rights lawyer and art therapist.
Craig Melvin teams up with Juan, a self-described foodie from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Juan has looked up to Andrew Zimmern his whole life and now gets to meet him for a one-on-one cooking class and tasting.
Juan (18), Albuquerque, NM – Juan recently graduated from Del Norte High School, where he described high school as a challenge until virtual learning, which gave him flexibility to do his work on his own time. Juan is outgoing and loves to socialize, especially among the communities he volunteers with in his free time. He’s known for his organic sense of story and great sense of humor, which are evident in the short movies he creates on his Instagram channel.
At just 14-years-old, artist and environmentalist Betsy from Philadelphia meets Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who challenges Betsy to spread awareness through her art. Betsy teams up with a local artist and creates a sculpture for her city.
Betsy (14), Philadelphia, PA – Betsy is the co-founder of the Sunrise Movement group at Penn Alexander, which she started during lockdown. Sunrise Movement – focused on stopping climate change – was inspired by Greta Thornberg. Betsy is also an artist, and she develops and sells prints of her work to help fund her passion for the environment.
Note: Comcast is the show’s sponsor and parent company of NBCUniversal.