Serving Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas
As the world becomes more digital, it’s Comcast’s goal to ensure that everyone can participate and excel in today’s society. We know that equitable access to skills & development opportunities is essential to building and supporting the future workforce, yet it remains a barrier to millions. From creating equitable pathways to technology roles, to supporting young entreprenuers, to opening doors for new voices and stories to be shared, we can help foster the next generation of innovators, creators and storytellers.
In 2022, Comcast invested nearly $1 Million throughout Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri and Wisconsin, to advance digital equity and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout these states.
We know that Digital Navigators – trusted voices for those who don’t know where to sign up for Internet service, get a device, or connect to skills training and other resources – are critical to digital equity and reducing socioeconomic inequalities. That’s why we are investing directly in community based initatives and programs to launch, support, and scale Digital Navigator and broadband adoption efforts in Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas and Wisconsin.
What is a Digital Navigator? Digital Navigators are trusted individuals affliated with local nonprofits, educational institutions, or governmental organizations who are trained to help people learn how to get online, use devices, and acquire digital skills. They assist those who don’t know where to start and can help open the door to opportunity and economic mobility.
Digital Navigators can help someone: Learn about government subsidies like the Affordable Connectivity Program, Sign up for Internet Service, Get a device, Connect to skills trainings and other digital literacy resources.
Current Comcast Partners: Starting in 2021, Comcast in the Twin Cities partnered with Summit Academy OIC on a digital navigation program through their Information Technology (IT) program.
The Summit Academy OIC IT program areas are designed to provide students with entry-level skills in the IT field through classroom and hands-on training completed in two 10-week phases. During Phase I, students learn the fundamentals in the IT industry. During Phase II, students move into program-specific information. At the end of the program, students participate in internships or capstones to participate in real-world IT projects.
To help bridge the digital divide, we launched Internet Essentials in 2011 to bring affordable, high-speed Internet to low-income families – and in over 10 years, we’ve connected more than 10 million Americans. In 2022, we signed on to participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) designed to help low-income households connect and stay connected to the Internet by providing an up to $30 per month subsidy ($75 per month in tribal areas) to pay for Internet service, covering the full cost of both Internet Essentials and Internet Essentials Plus for eligible families.
Internet Essentials is more than just an Internet connection. Once someone is a Internet Essentials customer, they have the option to purchase a new Dell laptop or Chromebook for just $149.99. All computers come with the hardware needed to use right out of the box so that customer’s can enjoy the benefits of having the Internet at home. If a Internet Essentials customer would like to purchase a computer, they can place their order online here.
Internet Essentials addresses the barriers to internet adoption through free digital literacy training resources, the option to purchase a discounted computer, and low-cost, high-speed Internet for under ten dollars a month, plus tax. Through this program, we’ve been able to connect students, families, and communities needing affordable internet resources. But more needs to be done.
In 2022, Comcast signed on to participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) designed to help low-income households connect and stay connected to the Internet by providing an up to $30 subsidy to pay for Internet Serivce, covering both Internet Essentials and Internet Essentials Plus for eligible families.
How does the Program Work: We have introduced two new ways for people to connect through ACP, and the $30/month ACP benefit can be applied to any tier of Xfinity Internet service. Eligible customers in Comcast’s service areas can sign up for Internet Essentials Plus, which includes 100 Mbps download speeds, a cable modem/WiFi router device, and is free after the government’s ACP credit is applied.
Additionally, Xfinity Internet customers participating in ACP can add mobile service through Xfinity Mobile, which includes 5G and automatically connects to millions of Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the country to reduce customers’ dependence on cellular and save money.
How to Sign-Up: New and existing Xfinity Internet or Internet Essentials customers can visit www.xfinity.com/acp or call 844-389-4681 for more information to determine eligibility and sign up. Customers can also call to speak to a dedicated ACP Enrollment and Support Center from 8 AM to 12 AM daily, with multi-lingual capabilities to assist anyone interested in the program.
We know that having access to the Internet along with the tools and information necessary to navigate the digital world are critical to closing the opportunity gap. But, the unfortunate reality is that not everyone has the resources and skills they need. For more than a decade, we have used our platforms and reach to help bridge the digital divide by connecting more people to the Internet and getting devices into the hands of people who need them. We also work with our network of thousands of partners to help address barriers to adoption that go beyond affordability, including a lack of awareness that low-income broadband programs exist and a lack of digital skills. By working together to expand broadband adoption, we can help close the homework gap, advance economic mobility, and achieve digital equity.
Working side by side with local non-profit partners like the Salvation Army, CLUES, The Boys and Girls Club, Neighborhood House, The Sanneh Foundation, Hallie Q Brown, Phyllis Wheatley, and many more, we are seeking to advance digital equity throughout our Region.
These organizations and Comcast share the same commitment – to provide our communities with the tools, resources, and skills needed to succeed in a digital world. Our contribution of funds, laptop computers, technology makeovers, and free internet service to these organizations are a part of our $1 million investment in to advance digital equity and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Comcast’s commitment to community serivce has been deeply embedded in our DNA for decades. Throughout the year, Comcast Midwest Region employees come together to volunteer and support our community partners. From volunteering with the Salvation Army by scaling down a wall to bring awareness to homelessness, to donating holiday toys for Toys for Tots, and organizing a food drive with the Comcast Employee Resource Groups, giving back to our communities where we live and work, is a top priority.
Together with nonprofit partners and city leaders, we have created more than 1,250 award-winning Lift Zones in community centers nationwide to provide students and families with free, high-capacity WiFi. Lift Zones offer not only free Internet connectivity, but also access to hundreds of hours of free educational and digital skills content to help families and site coordinators navigate online learning.
Comcast has partnered with The Sanneh Foundation to include installing free WiFi in the very first Comcast Lift Zone in its Conway Center, as well as the 1,000th Lift Zone in St. Paul, Minnesota at The Sanneh Foundation’s Seton Center. The company also marked the 1,000th Lift Zone occasion as it rebuilds after being set back by an arsonist.
We know that thousands of residents in the Midwest Regions also depend on community centers for access to the Internet, and our Lift Zone initiative aims to address that need. Through our Lift Zone initiative, we have equipped over 100 Lift Zones with free internet service throughout Minnesota, Kansas and Missouri. Lift Zones provide residents with locations to access online education, healthcare, and employment resources.
Connectivity: This initiative provides free hotspot connectivity. Providing access to hundreds of hours of educational and digital skills content to help families and site coordinators navigate online learning. Lift Zones complement Comcast’s Internet Essentials program.
Internet Essentials Parntership Program: The Lift Zones initiative comes on the heels of Comcast’s recent launch of its new “Internet Essentials Partnership Program,” which focuses on enabling cities, school districts, and community based organizations to connect large numbers of low-income students to the Internet at home to support distance learning.