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Closing the Digital Divide in Philadelphia with Internet Essentials and Local Partners


Comcast recently made some big announcements in its hometown of Philadelphia, the last stop on a multi-city tour for Comcast Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer David L. Cohen and Olympian and Internet Essentials Spokesperson Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Philadelphia’s Olney Elementary School served as the backdrop for an assembly with Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Philadelphia School District Superintendent Dr. William R. Hite, Councilwoman Charelle Parker and 50 students from the school.

There, we were excited to share that in the five years since Comcast kicked off Internet Essentials, 750,000 families, or 3 million Americans, have signed up for the program. In Greater Philadelphia, Internet Essentials has connected 33,000 families – or nearly 132,000 individuals – to the Internet at home.

We also announced an award of $100,000 in grants to 10 local nonprofits that are working to bridge the digital divide. The donations will support the digital literacy efforts of Concilio; Congreso; the Dornsife Center at Drexel University; Girls, Inc. of Greater Philadelphia and Southern NJ; Peoples Emergency Center (PEC); Philadelphia FIGHT; Police Athletic League of Philadelphia; Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition (SEAMAAC); SPIN-Norcom Community Center and Strawberry Mansion Neighborhood Action Center.

“In the last five years, we’ve learned that no single company or government program is ever going to fix the digital divide and that solving a big, difficult societal issue like this takes nothing short of a movement,” said Cohen. “We are proud that thousands of elected officials and community partners in our home state and nationwide have helped us make a meaningful dent in the digital divide and we look forward to bringing this essential connection to even more families in Philadelphia and across the country over the next five years.”

Later that day, Cohen and Joyner-Kersee travelled to the Columbia North YMCA in Philadelphia where they were joined by Kevin Washington, President and CEO of the YMCA of the USA; Shaun Elliott, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA – which has 20 site locations in Pennsylvania; and 65 students from the Saint Malachy School.

David Cohen announced a $15 million partnership with the YMCA that combines the Y’s commitment to strengthening communities and improving the lives of children and families with the transformative potential of Comcast’s Internet Essentials, to help prepare the next generation for the future. As part of this multi-year partnership, the Freedom Valley Ys will receive $50,000 to support digital literacy and academic achievement programs.

Following each announcement, students in the audience received a special surprise of their own. All were gifted with free laptops, handed out on the spot by Jackie Joyner-Kersee herself! The students were thrilled to be going home with new computers of their very own – and their teachers joked that they now have no excuse not to get their homework done. And that’s exactly the idea behind Internet Essentials.


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