Last week in New Jersey, Comcast marked the 10th anniversary of its signature digital equity program, Internet Essentials – the nation’s largest, most successful and most comprehensive broadband adoption program for low-income households – with the launch of a WiFi-connected Lift Zone at Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey & Philadelphia’s Stratford, NJ, location. Comcast also donated grants totaling $35,000 to support Goodwill’s digital equity, inclusion and literacy efforts in South Jersey, and 500 laptops to support local job seekers receiving training services through Goodwill.
Ten local residents who are currently enrolled in Goodwill’s Helms Academy Adult Education Program were surprised with free laptops during the event. Comcast and Goodwill Industries International recently announced a partnership to provide digital skills and workforce development training for thousands of adults with low incomes at Goodwill nonprofit organizations across the United States. In addition, Comcast will install free WiFi access at other Goodwill locations across the country to enable people to get online to search for and apply for jobs as well as take digital skills training and certification programs to prepare for entry and mid-level occupations.
“Access to the Internet offers a life-changing pathway for workers to get the skills they need to move up the economic ladder and prepare for the jobs of the future, but not everyone is capable of taking full advantage of the technology,” said Trinity Thorpe-Lubneuski, Executive Director, Internet Essentials at Comcast Corporation. “Greater Internet adoption and increased digital skills will not only lead to higher paying jobs, but also make our country more competitive globally.”
“Through the Helms Academy, Goodwill helps adult students earn their high school diploma, while earning up to 30 college credits in the process,” said Mark Boyd, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey & Philadelphia. “Our partnership with Comcast will provide our participants with free connectivity and devices, which are essential to accessing training and the basic support needed to gain economic mobility and pursue new beginnings.”
“The Helms Academy program has empowered and inspired me, and helped me to see my potential,” said Lauren Pelley, a Helms Academy graduate. “With my diploma in hand, I am now a NJ State Certified Recovery Support Practitioner in the mental health field. The easy accessibility, guidance from staff and overall support is what makes the Helms Academy an amazing opportunity for everyone. The once far off dream of mine is now a reality! Comcast’s investment in Goodwill’s Helms Academy will strengthen its programs and most importantly its students.”
This milestone event and surprise donation is part of Project UP, Comcast’s $1 billion commitment to reach 50 million people with the tools, resources, and skills needed to succeed in a digital world. Locally, that includes partnerships with community-based organizations, support of PHLConnectED, the launch and installation of over 125 regional Lift Zones, and support of more than 600 diverse small business owners through Comcast RISE.