'Internet Essentials' to Provide Families with Children Eligible for a Free Lunch Under the National School Lunch Program with Low-Cost Internet Service, Affordable Computers and Digital Literacy Training
MIAMI, FL - August 4, 2011
Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, Volunteer Florida CEO Wendy Spencer, Comcast Corporation Executive Vice President David L. Cohen and Comcast's Regional Senior Vice President of the Florida East Coast Region, Filemon Lopez, hosted a briefing today to discuss best-in-class broadband inclusion programs. At the event in the historic Overtown area of Miami, Cohen unveiled a new national initiative called Internet Essentials, which is being viewed as the most ambitious and comprehensive broadband adoption program in the county.
The program addresses what research has identified three primary barriers to broadband adoption:
A lack of understanding of how the Internet is relevant and useful;
The cost of a home computer, and
The cost of Internet service.
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.
According to Cohen, "Access to the Internet has the potential to be a great equalizer and a life-changing technology. Internet Essentials helps level the playing field for low-income families. Access to broadband in students' homes will help them connect with their teachers and their school's educational resources as well as enabling parents to do things like apply for jobs online or use the Internet to learn more about healthcare and government services available where they live."
During the briefing at Phillis Wheatley Elementary School in the Overtown area of Miami, Mayor Regalado, Superintendent Carvalho, and Volunteer Florida CEO, Spencer, joined Cohen and Lopez to introduce Internet Essentials and discuss ways to work together to help bridge the digital divide.
"Comcast's Internet Essentials is a model digital inclusion program that sets the bar for broadband adoption initiatives. It not only advances the learning process for children that do not have the Internet at home, but it is a positive influence for all of Miami," said Mayor Regalado. "The Internet Essentials program is a perfect example of how a local school system, city government and the business community can all work together to create solutions that move our entire community forward."
During the past several years, Superintendent Carvalho and the Miami-Dade County School Board have been very proactive in seeking the necessary technology tools and training for students. Most notably, the Miami-Dade County School District received a $3.5M broadband stimulus grant to advance broadband adoption among students in Miami-Dade County.
"As America increasingly becomes a digital nation, in-classroom learning is being supplemented with digital curriculums and at-home assignments," said Superintendent Carvalho. "Internet Essentials will help more low-income families benefit from the educational resources and assistance the Internet provides."
Internet Essentials participants 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;
Access to free digital literacy training in print, online or in person.
Additional benefits include the Norton™ Security Suite ($160 value) for comprehensive online security protection at no additional cost.
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 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.
"We can't lose sight that Miami is one of the poorest cities in the country, which includes many people who are working very hard every day to better the lives of their families," said Lopez. "Our new Internet Essentials initiative provides broadband services to households who have been unable to afford it. This directly gives the most economically challenged in our community a tangible chance to excel."
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.