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Comcast, Fresno School Superintendent and Elected Officials Announce New Initiative to Help Close the Digital Divide in Fresno
Aug 20, 2011 (03:08 PM EDT)


'Internet Essentials' to Provide Low-Cost Internet Service, Affordable Computers and Digital Literacy Training to Families with Children Eligible for a Free Lunch under the National School Lunch Program

FRESNO, Calif., Aug. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- California State Assemblymember Henry Perea, Fresno City Councilman Sal Quintero, Fresno Unified School District Superintendent Michael Hanson, and Comcast's Regional Senior Vice President for California, Curt Henninger, hosted the Comcast Family Digital Fair today showcasing best-in-class broadband inclusion programs. Surrounded by Fresno Fuego soccer players at the family fair-themed event in Southeast Fresno, Comcast unveiled a new national initiative called Internet Essentials, which is being viewed as the most ambitious and comprehensive broadband adoption program in the county to date.  

The program addresses what research has identified as the three primary barriers to broadband adoption:  

1)  A lack of understanding of how the Internet is relevant and useful;                
2)  The cost of a home computer, and                
3)  The cost of Internet service.

"Having access to the Internet is a necessity," said California State Assemblymember Henry T. Perea. "Kids who don't have access to the Internet are at a great disadvantage when it comes to doing school work, applying to college and even looking for a job. Comcast's commitment to closing the digital divide will provide a much needed boost to those currently living without the Internet -- providing them access to important resources needed to succeed in school and beyond."

Available to low-income families living in Comcast's service areas with children who are eligible to receive a free lunch under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the goal of Internet Essentials is to help ensure more American families benefit from all the Internet has to offer.

"The Internet Essentials initiative provides broadband services to households who have been unable to afford it.  Access to broadband in students' homes will not only help them connect to educational resources, but will allow their parents to apply for jobs online or learn more about available government services," said Curt Henninger, Comcast's Regional Senior Vice President for California.

"This partnership with Comcast will provide our students and their families with low-cost high-speed broadband access to the Internet. This will allow them to take advantage at home of the many online programs and educational resources our district has developed to accelerate the academic success of our students," said Fresno Unified School District Superintendent Michael Hanson.

Comcast California also announced a contribution of $15,000 to its Fresno non-profit partner Reading & Beyond (www.readingandbeyond.org) to assist families in purchasing a computer through the Internet Essentials program.  During these economic times, families might not have the means to pay the full computer amount upfront.  Reading & Beyond will use the contribution to create a 'micro-lending' program for families to be able to purchase the $149.99 + taxes computer available through the Internet Essentials initiative and repay Reading & Beyond through an installment payment plan.  

"Over the past 12 years, I have not met a parent who didn't care about the success of their child," stated Luis Santana, Executive Director, Reading & Beyond.  "Once parents have the tools and knowledge, I believe they will do what it takes to help their child succeed. With Internet Essentials, Comcast is empowering parents to ensure their child's success."

During the briefing at Mario Olmos Elementary School in Fresno, Assemblymember Perea, City Councilman Quintero and Superintendent Hanson joined Henninger to introduce Internet Essentials and promote the collaboration between businesses, school districts and community organizations who are working together to bridge the digital divide.

Service Details:

Qualified Internet Essentials families will receive:

  • Residential Internet service for $9.95 a month + applicable taxes;
  • No price increases, no activation fees, or equipment rental fees;
  • A voucher to purchase a low-cost computer for $149.99 + tax; and
  • Access to free digital literacy training in print, online, and in-person.

Additional benefits include a Norton™ Security Suite ($160 value), which provides comprehensive online security protection, at no additional charge.

Eligibility:

A household is eligible to participate in the Internet Essentials program if it meets all of the following criteria:

  • Is located where Comcast offers Internet service;
  • Has at least one child who is eligible to receive a free school lunch under the NSLP (As an example, according to the Department of Agriculture, a household of three would have to make less than $25,000 a year in income);
  • Has not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days;
  • Does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment.

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 www.internetessentials.com for English and visit www.internetbasico.com for Spanish. Educators or third-parties interested in helping to spread the word can find more information at www.internetessentials.com/partner. Parents looking to enroll in the program can call 1-855-846-8376 or, for Spanish, 1-855-765-6995.

Downloadable broadcast-quality B-roll video footage of the event and the announcement is available at: http://comcastcalifornia.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=98.

About Comcast Corporation:

Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) (www.comcast.com) is one of the nation's leading providers of entertainment, information and communications products and services. Comcast is principally involved in the operation of cable systems through Comcast Cable and in the development, production and distribution of entertainment, news, sports and other content for global audiences through NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential and business customers. Comcast is the majority owner and manager of NBCUniversal, which owns and operates entertainment and news cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, local television station groups, television production operations, a major motion picture company and theme parks.

Comcast's California Region, based in Livermore, California, serves more than 2.3 million customers in Northern and Central California.  Comcast employs more than 7,000 local residents across the region.

SOURCE Comcast Corporation