Comcast’s Digital Initiative Reaches Hispanic Families

By: Ashmar Mandou

 Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - EducationIn an effort to reduce the digital divide, Comcast revealed its new initiative, Internet Essentials, designed to provide internet access to low-income Hispanic families across the country. “I am so proud to work for a company that has spearheaded this kind of initiative,” said Lucia Rodriguez, director of Hispanic Marketing for Comcast. “The internet is an amazing tool for different areas like, education, healthcare, and receiving information about your local community and government. This initiative will definitely represent advancement for communities, the country, and for individuals.”

In time for the back-to-school season, Internet Essentials, which launched earlier this month, will be offered to low-income families with children who are eligible to receive a free school lunch as part of their enrollment in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Internet Essentials will provide families with low-cost monthly Internet service, an affordable computer and digital literacy training, available in both English and Spanish for Hispanic households. The program will reach more than 4,000 school districts within 39 states, including Illinois. “This program was designed to solve the different obstacles that families have faced to gain internet access at home,” said Rodriguez. “Some of the obstacles families come across are lack of knowledge, the cost of the computer, and subscribing to internet service. So this program, Internet Essentials, solves all of that.”

According to Comcast Corporation Executive Vice President David L. Cohen, Internet Essentials will not only close the digital divide, but the cultural divide as well. ““Internet Essentials represents an important opportunity for Comcast to help bridge both the digital and cultural divide for Hispanics in the U.S. This program will not only help connect Hispanic students with their teachers and other educational resources, it will also help members of their households do things like apply for jobs online, improve language skills, or learn more about healthcare services available where they live.” Families who are eligible will receive, residential internet service for $9.95 a month, plus taxes, a voucher to purchase a low-cost computer for $149.99, plus taxes, and access to free digital literacy training in print, online, and in person. “I am a mother and I have made a point of teaching my daughter how to use the internet. I think, for me, giving internet access to kids so that they don’t have stay late at their local library or worry about where they are going to finish their assignment, is the most beautiful component to this program,” said Rodriguez.

For a household to become eligible for Comcast’s Internet Essentials, a family of three would have to make less than $25,000 a year in come, according to the Department of Agriculture, has not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days, and does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment. According to Rodriguez, Comcast will sign up eligible families in the program for at least three years, through the end of the 2013-2014 school year. Any household that qualifies during this three-year period will remain eligible for Internet Essentials provided a child eligible for a free lunch remains living in the household. For general information about Internet Essentials, please visit for English and visit for Spanish. Parents looking to enroll in the program can call 1-855-846-8376 or, for Spanish, 1-855-765-6995.

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