Comcast is proud to partner with the City and a broad coalition of philanthropic and civic leaders as part of the City of Philadelphia’s “PHLConnectED” program, which will help connect low-income K-12 public school student households.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Comcast has been working with the City and School District of Philadelphia to identify a solution for providing internet service as well as digital skills training and support for students and their families for the upcoming academic year. For the past decade, Comcast has been working with hundreds of community partners across the city to connect low-income families through its Internet Essentials program, the largest Internet adoption program in the country. The PHLConnectED program is designed to help accelerate Internet adoption for the students that remain unconnected and is the result of this months-long partnership with our teams across these organizations and civic leaders.
The three core components of the PHLConnectED program include:
- Free wired, high-speed, reliable broadband internet to the home from Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, or a high-speed mobile hotspot for families who are housing-insecure from T-Mobile.
- Distribution of devices, such as Chromebooks, tablets or computers (Devices have already been paid for and procured through the School District, some Charters and private funds).
- Free skill training and tech support for students, families and teachers to ensure they not only get connected, but also stay connected and safely take full advantage of all that the Internet has to offer.
Other initial partners in PHLConnectED include the City of Philadelphia; School District of Philadelphia; Philadelphia Housing Authority; select Charter Schools, including Mastery Schools, KIPP Charter Schools, Esperanza Charter Schools, Boys Latin Charter School; Independence Charter School, Philadelphia Charters for Excellence, Richard Allen Prep Center; Philadelphia Housing Authority; William Penn Foundation; Lenfest Foundation; Neubauer Foundation; and Philadelphia School Partnership.
“For more than a decade, Comcast has been dedicated to tackling the digital divide nationally, and particularly here in Philadelphia,” said Dalila Wilson-Scott, President of the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation. “A problem as vast and complex as this one requires all of us to work together to ensure students not only get connected but also stay engaged with distance learning throughout this academic year.”
“Our goal is to identify and implement affordable, simple and reliable digital access solutions for all our residents,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “By focusing on K-12 student households now, we can have an immediate impact in bridging the digital divide, especially to support distance learning for the upcoming school year.”
Since 2011, thousands of Philadelphia households – and millions nationwide – have been connected to the internet at home through Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, most for the first time.
“The digital divide is an inequity that presents a significant barrier to our goal of helping all students in every neighborhood reach their full academic potential,” said Dr. William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D., Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. “So, we at the School District of Philadelphia are pleased to see the City, legislators and business leaders come together to launch PHLConnectED, a program we believe can close the divide and allow for all students to have the access they need, especially now as we prepare for 100 percent digital learning to start the 2020-2021 school year next month.”
Internet Essentials provides internet service at home to eligible low-income households for $9.95 a month plus applicable taxes and fees. Internet Essentials has an integrated, wrap-around design that addresses each of the three major barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified. This comprehensive approach helps to provide:
- Digital literacy skills, including understanding the relevance of the internet in connecting to education, work, healthcare and other resources;
- Access to a device;
Internet Essentials is structured as a partnership between Comcast and tens of thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials and nonprofit community partners. In Philadelphia, we have contributed millions of dollars in financial support to more than 60 nonprofit organizations engaged in digital literacy training and inclusion efforts. We also helped create 13 computer labs with 7 different organizations across the City to help adults, students, veterans, immigrants, seniors, and people with disabilities including, Congreso, Concilio, SEAMAAC, Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia, Special People in the Northeast (SPIN).
Eligibility for this program is designed to ensure that families with the greatest need for internet service are prioritized. The first phase is focused on connecting K-12 public school student households who currently do not have any Internet access or who only have mobile phone access and/or who are homeless or housing insecure. Eligible households will be contacted by the School District or Charter school directly through direct mail, email, robocalls, and/or text messages later this month.
Individuals or organizations interested in contributing to this effort are encouraged to donate at the PHLConnectED initiative website.