Alongside Utah’s top leaders, Comcast’s executives announced its expansion efforts to help low-income Utahns gain access to the Internet and increase digital equity.
“Utah is one of the most collaborative states we work with across the country when it comes to helping its citizens gain digital equity,” said J.D. Keller, senior vice president, Comcast Mountain West Region. “Leaders from the state, county and city are working together as we open more free WiFi Lift Zones, connect more families to the Internet at home, and increase speeds for businesses and families across the state.”
The announcement is part of Project UP, Comcast’s comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity and help build a future of unlimited possibilities; and coincides with the 10th anniversary of its Internet Essentials program, which has connected a cumulative total of more than 10 million people to the Internet at home – most for the very first time. Comcast’s expanded eligibility for Internet Essentials, now including all Federal Pell Grant recipients within its service area, will enable even more students to stay connected as they continue to pursue degrees at colleges, universities, and technical schools.
Comcast’s top priorities are connecting people to the Internet at home, equipping safe spaces with free WiFi and working with a robust network of nonprofit community organizations, city leaders, and business partners to create opportunities for low-income Americans.
“We are delighted to work with such outstanding corporate partners, such as Comcast, as we connect more Utahns to the Internet,” said Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox. “Utah is regularly lauded for its innovative vision in numerous categories, and increasing our digital access helps everyone, including families, students and businesses.”
Salt Lake County is responsible for launching unique digital equity initiatives to connect its community.
“We have one of the most forward-thinking counties in the country and having such a robust partnership with leaders in government and community organizations means we can connect the pivot points quicker and more securely for all involved,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson. “We’re committed to digital equity. Our Salt Lake County libraries have more than 300 hotspots and 150 Chromebooks in circulation to assist residents with digital needs in their homes.
“As a national technology leader, Comcast is greatly advancing Salt Lake County's effort in supporting economic prosperity in each region of the county.”
According to Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, county collaboration with Salt Lake City allows continuity between communities in their efforts to bridge the digital divide.
“We only benefit as a community when we embrace technology and ensure we have the fastest and most reliable Internet services available,” said Mendenhall. “Closing the digital divide and providing Lift Zones allows students and families to excel in ways they need to compete in today’s fast-paced environment.”
As the nation’s largest Internet provider, Comcast supports cooperation between communities, businesses and non-profit organizations to enhance digital equity.
“In working with communities across America, we know Utah is remarkable with a can-do attitude and an extraordinary amount of collaboration with incredible community partners,” said Keller. “Together, we have been able to connect tens of thousands of Utahns to the power of the Internet at home and to the endless opportunity, education, growth, and discovery it provides. Today, we are rededicating ourselves to this mission to ensure the next generation of students in Utah has the tools, resources, and abilities to succeed in an increasingly digital world.”
In 2021 alone, Comcast estimates students across America will complete more than 25 million hours of remote learning lessons to further address the “homework gap” at the hundreds of Lift Zone locations that have already opened or will open soon.
Comcast’s $1 billion commitment will include investments in several critical areas, including: additional support for the Lift Zone initiative, which establishes WiFi-connected safe spaces in 35 community centers in Utah and 1,000+ community centers nationwide for students and adults by the end of 2021; new laptop and computer donations; over $100,000 in digital equity grants for local Utah nonprofit community organizations to create opportunities for low-income Utahns – particularly in media, technology, and entrepreneurship; and continued investment in the company’s landmark Internet Essentials program.
“Comcast’s investment in Utah’s digital connectivity future is remarkable,” said Gov. Cox. “Helping to close the digital divide so everyone has Internet access in Utah is paramount.”
To increase digital access and reliability, Comcast awarded a financial grant to Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salt Lake, whose mission is to inspire and empower youth to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens.
“We are very grateful for this timely grant from Comcast,” said Amanda Ree Hughes, president and CEO of Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salt Lake. “Comcast is a 360-partner because they give more than just dollars for computers and programs. Their employees bring skills, experience and knowledge to create a whole solution in providing access and technology to help our kids succeed.”
To help close Utah’s digital divide, Comcast is gifting computers and laptops to Neighborhood House for individuals and families to have Internet access where they had none.
“We are excited about our partnership with Comcast because we work with a clientele that doesn't have a lot of access to technology,” said Jennifer Nuttall, executive director at Neighborhood House. “Comcast has been an amazing partner by connecting us, and now that they're giving out 300 computers and laptops to our clients and to help our programs, it's just really phenomenal.
“It's life-changing for families. Being able to access technology for kids for school and for parents with work and their kids’ school needs is very much needed.”
“Whenever we can help our community neighbors connect to reliable, high-speed Internet access, we work to do that,” said Keller. “It helps keep us all moving forward one family, one organization, and one community at a time.”