Impact Summit Highlights Need for Digital Equity — Before, During and After Pandemic

Comcast’s first gathering of Internet Essentials partners generates big ideas to drive impact at an opportune time

CWEE has long understood the value of Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, the nation’s largest broadband adoption program for low-income households.

Since 2011, Internet Essentials has connected more than 300,000 Coloradans to the internet at home, including many CWEE participants — most for the very first time.

Today, with the COVID-19 crisis forcing everything online — from classes to counseling and everything in between — it’s never been more important to bridge the digital divide and ensure that we are all connected.

I recently traveled to Philly to attend Comcast’s first ever national partner gathering for the Internet Essentials program.

The event was part conference, part celebration, part collective brainstorm session. It was fascinating, informative and inspiring all at once!

We were blown away at the reach and progress of the Internet Essentials program (over 2M households and 8M people connected), as well as the brilliant thinking and research that is taking place across the country to advance digital equity and expand educational and economic opportunities for individuals and families.

Efosa Ojomo (pictured), research fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, gave a fascinating keynote about the important role businesses play in creating opportunity, and what can be learned from developing nations.

In addition to thought leadership, Comcast provides CWEE with financial support to fund technology career skills for the low-income parents that CWEE serves.

As the pandemic forces more and more of the essential functions of our lives online, it’s even more essential for CWEE to help our participants build digital skills and gain access to equipment and a home internet connection.

With support from partners including Comcast, CWEE provides all of our participants with training related to internet navigation. Last year 147 CWEE participants earned 700 computer related certificates.

One recent participant in CWEE’s program who benefitted from our partnership with Comcast is Lorraine Williams. Lorraine started her journey at CWEE in 2018, where she earned her GED — a first crucial step to reach her long-term goal of becoming an American Sign Language interpreter. (The photo is of Lorraine receiving her GED certificate.)

In 2019, Lorraine began CWEE’s Step to Success program for alumni, aimed at helping participants advance toward their goals with support along the way. For Lorraine, that meant higher education and as soon as she enrolled to begin her Associate’s degree, she quickly realized that not having a laptop or internet access was going to be an insurmountable barrier to her academic success.

Through CWEE’s partnership with Comcast, Lorraine received a laptop and was connected at home with Comcast Internet Essentials. She now pays $9.95 + tax per month for high-speed internet service, which she is able to comfortably afford. Lorraine continues to work toward her long-term goal, while turning to CWEE for support along the way. She is currently employed as an administrative assistant as she works toward her Associate’s Degree.

If you’re interested in learning more about Comcast’s Internet Essentials program visit, https://internetessentials.com/. And, if you know someone who could benefit from this program Comcast is offering 60 days of free Internet service to new, eligible Internet Essentials customers through the end of this year to keep people connected to what matters.