Advancing Economic Mobility Through Intentional Collaboration
I recently had the honor of joining U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and activist-actor John Leguizamo in a powerful discussion at the Aspen Ideas Festival about how we can best prepare students for the workforce of the future. What struck me during our conversation – and what I found so impactful – was how our respective efforts to support this shared mission are so deeply interconnected.
With 92 percent of jobs available today requiring digital or likely digital skills and nearly one-third of U.S. workers lacking opportunities to build these skills, targeted development programs are essential to closing the skills gap – and digital divide – while spurring critical job placement and increasing diversity and equity in the workforce.
In Comcast’s efforts to advance digital equity, we consider the economic mobility of every individual and in turn, how it impacts our economic competitiveness as a country. Project UP – our $1 billion initiative to reach tens of millions of people with the resources they need to succeed in a technologically advanced world – is an intentional commitment to create opportunities that will change lives and communities for generations to come.
Nothing we do is in isolation. As we consider ways to ensure digital equity, we can’t ignore the many factors and circumstances that impact students’ learning and access to opportunity. Therefore, we must think about solutions holistically.
The Secretary and I were excited to highlight an example of the type of intentional collaboration that’s needed. The Roybal Film and Television Production Magnet program in Los Angeles is equipping historically underrepresented students with the technology and digital skills required for success in media and entertainment. This program serves as a model for how industry-informed education can help create pathways to high-paying careers and drive our economy forward.
As host and executive producer of Leguizamo Does America on MSNBC, John Leguizamo shared his invaluable expertise on leveraging the potential of students with skills like those developed at Roybal. More than 75 percent of the crew and production team were Latino or from communities of color and 90 percent of the creative or editorial team were Latino. And to pay it forward, the team promotes future talent, providing career opportunities, mentoring and shadowing to the next generation of creators. We’re proud that the show has been renewed for a second season and while this work is remarkable, it should not be an outlier.
We must continue to collaborate across the public, corporate, philanthropic, and nonprofit sectors to meet the challenges of achieving true digital equity. Getting more people connected to the power of the Internet through programs like the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program is stage one. Ensuring that ACP funding is extended, so that every student can be successful, acquire the right skills, and unleash their individual creativity and talent to the fullest potential is stage two.
Secretary Cardona boldly and accurately stated that we must be unapologetically intentional about lifting up every one of our communities. Comcast is proud to join him and John Leguizamo in continuing to partner with incredible leaders working relentlessly to build a future of unlimited possibilities.
Comcast is the founding member of Online For All, an Affordable Connectivity Program awareness and enrollment campaign launched by Civic Nation and the U.S. Department of Education.
Dalila Wilson-Scott is Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast Corporation & President, Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation.