Comcast announced that it will invest more than $500,000 in grants to 17 organizations to support digital access and adoption for residents across the Greater Boston region. Among the local recipients selected are Tech Goes Home, Central Boston Elder Services, and One Bead. The organizations receiving grants were chosen due to their commitment to digital equity and the funds will support programs specifically designed to provide residents in Boston and surrounding communities with Internet access and digital skill-building services. This announcement is part of Project UP, Comcast’s 10-year, $1 billion pledge to advance digital equity through programs and community partnerships that connect people to the Internet, advance economic mobility, and open doors for the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, storytellers and creators.
“As a media and technology company, we are uniquely positioned to help address the inequities that exists in digital access and adoption. We see this not simply as the reality – but as an imperative, and our responsibility,” said Dalila Wilson-Scott, EVP and Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast Corporation and President, Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation. “Through this grant we are excited to deepen our partnerships with these local nonprofit partners and better ensure all residents across the Greater Boston region achieve digital equity.”
The three Boston-based recipient organizations will use the funds to create digital navigators, individuals affiliated with trusted community organizations who are trained to help people access the Internet, use devices and acquire digital skills. Once their training is complete, these digital navigators will educate community members in a wide range of digital awareness and literacy skills. Additionally, they will help residents learn about the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides eligible low-income households with a credit of up to $30 per month toward their Internet and/or mobile service.
“During our longstanding partnership with Comcast, we’ve made important progress toward connecting more Bostonians to the power of the Internet,” said Dan Noyes, Co-CEO of Tech Goes Home. “Expanding our partnership now to enable more staff and partners to offer individuals and families hands-on, culturally-responsive digital skills support — including assistance signing up for free broadband programs — will help reach and connect even more people. These kinds of strong, collaborative ties between our public, private and nonprofit sectors will continue to be vital as we work to expand digital access and adoption, and we’re grateful for Comcast’s continued partnership.”
In addition, 14 other nonprofits received grants to further digital equity efforts – such as conducting digital literacy training across eastern Massachusetts. They are Massachusetts Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs; BAGLY (Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth); Just A Start; Elder Services of Cape Cod; Metro North Regional Employment Board; YMCA of Metro North; Massachusetts Nonprofit Network; Essex County Community Foundation; Timothy Smith Network; MACIR Career Center; Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts; YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard; Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center; and Save the Harbor/Save the Bay.
This investment follows the announcement of a nationwide study by the Boston Consulting Group, which found that digital navigators are critical to closing the digital divide and reducing socioeconomic inequalities by helping more people get online. The study surveyed 1,500 individuals across the country who received support from a digital navigator. With the support of these digital case workers:
- More than 65 percent of survey respondents said they obtained Internet access or a computer or tablet at home; among Hispanic and Black Americans, this increased to 72 percent.
- More than 85 percent of all respondents said they used the Internet more frequently.
- Almost half surveyed obtained better healthcare, and 40 percent received support with basic needs like food, rent, and housing.
- 1 in 3 found a new job or earned a higher income.
“Comcast knows that access to the Internet is vital but also recognizes that having the digital literacy skills to build and enhance career pathways and opportunities are crucial,” said Anthony Bowling, Senior Vice President of Comcast’s Greater Boston Region. “That is why we are working side by side with public, private and nonprofit partners to do our part to help bridge that divide, advance digital equity and bring economic opportunity to the Boston area and beyond.”
Additional information on the Boston-area partner organizations providing digital navigation services:
- Tech Goes Home connects families and community members across Eastern Massachusetts with technology, connectivity and digital skills to help them thrive. Comcast’s $50,000 grant will empower the organization to launch its digital navigator program and help senior citizens, parents and caregivers with technology training, one-on-one support and assistance signing up for free broadband programs. In addition, Comcast provided 200 laptops to equip the digital navigators with the right tools to get more Bostonians online.
- Central Boston Elder Services (CBES) provides high-quality, responsive, supportive services and programs to the elderly and the disabled in need of health and human services. Comcast’s $47,500 grant will launch its digital navigator program and help CBES provide connectivity and digital literacy training to an elder population that is unconnected today.
- One Bead is focused on addressing the opportunity gap by partnering exclusively with schools in low-income communities. One Bead will use Comcast’s $25,000 grant to launch its digital navigator program to provide digital literacy training sessions for students. Additionally, they will use the funds to provide laptops for students who lack access to devices at home.
These efforts are all part of Project UP, Comcast’s comprehensive initiative to help build a future of unlimited possibilities. Project UP encompasses digital equity programs such as Internet Essentials, Lift Zones and Comcast RISE. Since its inception in 2011, Comcast’s Internet Essentials has connected more than 10 million low-income Americans to broadband service at home, including more than 388,000 in Massachusetts. Additionally, Comcast has launched more than 1,000 Lift Zones in community centers nationwide – with 74 locations in Massachusetts alone – to provide students and families with free, high-speed WiFi. And through Comcast RISE, a multi-year national program that supports small businesses owned by women or people of color in response to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Comcast has supported more than 100 Massachusetts businesses with tech makeovers or free ad campaigns.
For additional information on Project UP and our digital equity initiatives, visit: https://corporate.comcast.com/impact/project-up.