By Lyndsay Moyer, Comcast Manager, Government Affairs
In my role at Comcast in Philadelphia, I have the pleasure of working with Comcasters from across the country who have raised their hand to participate in the Internet Essentials Ambassador Program. Internet Essentials Ambassadors are Comcast employees who volunteer their time to educate members of their communities, civic organizations and others about the opportunities presented through the program, which provides families with school-aged children in-home Internet for $9.95 a month and the option to purchase a computer for under $150.
Internet Essentials, now in its fifth year, is invaluable for families who are unable to afford Internet service and students who might not have adequate access to technology at school. Technology today is constantly evolving, making it difficult for those without access to keep up. But the program can only be a value to students and families if they know about it, understand its relevance and know how to sign up. 70,000 Philadelphia area residents have connected via Internet Essentials, and we’ve provided 3,700 local residents with digital literacy training, and there is always more work to do to help further close the digital divide.
This is where Internet Essentials Ambassadors come in, building on the ongoing outreach and engagement of Comcast’s Government Affairs and Community Investment teams and using their individual networks and identification as trusted, familiar sources of information to reach out to families who can benefit from the program.
At a recent Comcast event, I spoke with one of our Ambassadors, Whitnye Jackson, who is also a manager at our Employee Service Center in Philadelphia where she helps our employees navigate human resource-related issues. Separate from her position at the company, she is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., an organization that prides itself on a commitment to education and service.
Whitnye enthusiastically discussed her involvement with the sorority and her passion for elevating those in her community who had challenges providing children with the same opportunities she was able to give her own. “In raising my children, I was blessed to be able to afford computers and Internet service,” Whitnye explained. “For children not to have that same exposure in today’s society doesn’t make sense.”
The Quaker City Alumnae (QCA) chapter of Delta Sigma Theta has, for 15 years, partnered with Grands As Parents (G.A.P.S), an organization for grandparents who have taken on the responsibility of raising their grandchildren and other young relatives. The organization works to identify resources and community partners that can help provide the necessary support for these families. QCA meets with the children and grandparents on a monthly basis for fun, educational activities and reading workshops.
Whitnye knew grandparents involved in G.A.P.S could benefit from Internet Essentials and, as a Comcast Ambassador, she has access to information that clearly explains the program and how to enroll. At recent Delta Sigma Theta monthly events, she has been able to share information with G.A.P.S members, as well as at numerous digital literacy training sessions supported by Internet Essentials and offered at no cost. Attendees have been amazed at the possibilities the program afforded them, and Whitnye was proud to be able to say that community is not just a priority of her sorority but of Comcast as well.
Ambassadors like Whitnye are crucial within our under-served communities. Proudly, we have many stories just like hers to tell, with more than 330 Internet Essentials Ambassadors in the Philadelphia area alone!