Comcast today announced it has equipped two nonprofits (three locations total) in Union County with WiFi-connected “Lift Zones” as part of its ongoing commitment to help students and adults get online, participate in distance learning or remote work, do homework or look for and apply for jobs. Working with local centers, Comcast is providing a robust WiFi solution at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County’s Plainfield and Union clubhouses, as well as Second Street Youth Center, to help hundreds of people get online.
“The students and families we serve in Plainfield and Union were participating in virtual school because of the pandemic, and many did not have the connectivity they needed. Comcast equipping our centers as a Lift Zone gave us the bandwidth and speed we needed to house students during remote learning – providing them a safe place to complete assignments and connect with teachers,” said Russell Triolo, Chief Executive Officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County. “The Lift Zone also enhanced our career tech program, allowing students to quickly and safely go on the Internet for career prep; it’s been used by family members to look for jobs and so much more.”
“Comcast truly came to our rescue during COVID-19,” said Leah Dade, Executive Director of Second Street Youth Center in Plainfield, NJ. “We knew our WiFi was going to be challenged when we started assisting students in this new virtual learning environment. Becoming a Comcast Lift Zone truly made our students’ virtual learning experience more effective; the high-speed Internet provided a stable connection for them to access their classes, and the additional, gifted headphones Comcast provided only elevated the experience and helped decrease distractions. But, it wasn’t just the Lift Zone, the two months of free Internet Essentials service Comcast provided to new customers was a lifeline to our students’ parents and families as well.”
In March, Comcast announced a $1 billion commitment over ten years in continued support of digital equity, including its Lift Zones initiative, which aims to install WiFi access inside 1,000+ community centers nationwide for students and adults by the end of 2021.
Lift Zones complement Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, which has helped connect a cumulative total of 10 million low-income people to the Internet at home since 2011, including approximately 10,000 in Union County. Working with its network of nonprofit partners, Comcast is providing free WiFi hotspot connectivity in community centers with access to hundreds of hours of digital skills content to help families and site coordinators navigate online learning. Comcast has already launched more than 100 Lift Zones across New Jersey and Greater Philadelphia.
“The pandemic has put many low-income families at risk of being left behind, and we’re proud to work with community partners to support them with Internet adoption and digital equity programs like this one,” said Jim Samaha, Senior Vice President of Comcast’s Freedom Region. “We hope these Lift Zones help Union County families stay connected to vital resources.”
As students across the country head back to school, there has never been more support available to get low-income Americans, in urban and rural communities alike, connected to broadband. Between Lift Zones, Internet Essentials and the federal government’s assistance in the form of the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), which provides a $50 subsidy for internet service, and the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) which supports connectivity for schools and libraries, powerful tools are available to help finally close the digital divide.