New immigrants to Philadelphia face a myriad of challenges, from finding housing and work to enrolling their children in school.
Without broadband Internet at home, these challenges become even harder.
That’s why Comcast works with organizations supporting immigrant communities to provide Internet access and laptops for many of Philadelphia’s newest residents. The city’s immigrant population has grown substantially in recent decades, the percentage more than doubling since 1990. More than a quarter of the city’s residents are either immigrants or have immigrant parents.
Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition (SEAMAAC) and The Welcoming Center are two nonprofits that help new neighbors gain essential English language skills, digital literacy training and access to the workforce. This fall, Comcast gave 250 laptop computers along with information on how to apply for Internet Essentials and the federal government’s Emergency Broadband Benefit (now the Affordable Connectivity Program) to constituents of SEAMAAC and The Welcoming Center as part of the 10th Anniversary of Internet Essentials celebration. With these tools, more Philadelphians are able to better succeed in the digital economy.
The two organizations have missions that serve new Philadelphians and longtime residents alike.
SEAMAAC supports immigrants, refugees and other economically, socially and politically marginalized Philadelphia communities. Digital literacy is important for new arrivals to gain employment in the workforce, which makes a partnership with Comcast a natural fit.
“We began partnering with Comcast in 2015,” says SEAMAAC CEO Thoai Nguyen. “We opened the first digital literacy lab. That helped us to close some of the gaps and start to bridge the chasm in immigrant and refugee communities. Comcast provided the funding and technology, and we provided the trust and the language skills needed to work with 25 different language groups represented in Philadelphia.”
Nguyen also celebrates Comcast’s support for PHLConnectED, which connects pre-K-12 student households to free, reliable Internet. “We partner with the city of Philly through PHLConnectED, which is also funded by Comcast,” he says. “We’ve been able to connect with and reach thousands of families throughout Philadelphia to tell them about Internet Essentials and digital literacy resources. We want to maintain this not just throughout the pandemic but in perpetuity.”
The Welcoming Center, meanwhile, promotes inclusive economic growth through immigrant and refugee integration. According to CEO Peter Gonzales, Comcast plays an important role in helping realize this mission.
“Over the past 30 years, the city has grown tremendously because of the number of immigrants that have come to the city,” says Gonzales. “Comcast plays a vital role in supporting the work of nonprofits like ours so that we can best support this community. Comcast provides Internet Essentials to help our neighbors gain access to information and services.”
Named a Top Diverse Employer by DIVERSEability Magazine, Comcast also is known for hiring Philadelphians from different backgrounds. “As one of our city’s largest employers, Comcast plays a crucial role in hiring members of the immigrant population, who bring skills that are hugely beneficial to our local economy,” adds Gonzales.
Partnering with organizations like SEAMAAC and The Welcoming Center allows Comcast to increase digital equity among communities across the city.
“We’re proud of the work we’re doing with Philadelphia’s immigrant population,” says Bob Smith, regional vice president of community impact at Comcast. “We want this community to thrive. Expanded access to computers and Internet service will help immigrants and refugees with needed digital literacy learning.”